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Beware Untested Diet Pills

We've heard about the dangers of popping weight-loss pills. But there are safe ways to drop extra pounds using supplements -- yes, even ephedra -- and prescriptions.

Beware Untested Diet Pills continued...

These drugs are all moderately useful and approved for use over various periods of time, says Heymsfield. But increasingly we are seeing these used in combinations or cocktails to decrease side effects and maintain weight loss, which tends to slow over time. Phen-pro is a weight-loss cocktail that combines phentermine with Prozac or other antidepressants. The use of the antidepressant in these cocktails is not to treat depression. No one is quite sure exactly why these combinations appear to improve weight loss. Some doctors also will prescribe combinations of Xenical or Meridia with phentermine.

Along with the cocktails, other drugs are increasingly being used for weight loss, says Heymsfield. Some of these include:

  • Topamax, an antiseizure medication approved for use in the treatment of epilepsy
  • Wellbutrin, an antidepressant

    Using prescription drugs that aren't officially approved by the FDA for weight loss is commonplace, but the doctor needs to be very, very careful, says Heymsfield. You don't want a truck driver or someone who operates heavy machinery taking an antiseizure medication because fatigue or euphoria can be a side effect.

    And medical researchers are pressing very hard to develop new weight-loss pills. One of the most promising drugs in development is Axokine, says Heymsfield. It is in the final phase of testing, and it not only looks like it will be important for weight loss, but it may also help people with type 2 diabetes.

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