Comparative efficacy of five long-term weight loss drugs: quantitative information for medication guidelines

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Quantitative information is scarce in current obesity medication guidelines, and they do not clearly reflect the differences in the efficacy characteristics among various drugs. This study quantitatively assessed the efficacy characteristics of five FDA-approved long-term weight loss drugs. Potentially eligible studies were obtained from public databases. Using the differences in the weight change from baseline between the drug group and the corresponding placebo group as the major indicator of efficacy, a time-effect model was established, and crucial pharmacodynamic parameters, such as the maximal efficacy, drug onset time and rate of body weight regain after the maximal efficacy point, were used to reflect the differences in efficacy among the five drugs. Finally, 50 reports (involving 43,443 participants) were included. After deducting the placebo effects, the maximal efficacies (95% CI) of orlistat (120 mg), lorcaserin, naltrexone–bupropion, phentermine–topiramate (PT, 7.5/46 mg) and liraglutide were −2.94 (−5.82, −1.27), −3.06 (−4.39, −1.71), −6.15 (−9.78, −3.25), −7.45 (−9.76, −3.88) and −5.50 (−10.62, −2.97) kg at weeks 60, 54, 67, 59 and 65 respectively, and their rates of body weight regain were 0.51, 0.48, 0.91, 1.27and 0.43 kg per year respectively. The 1-year dropout rates of orlistat, lorcaserin, naltrexone-bupropion, PT and liraglutide were 29.0, 40.9, 49.1, 34.9 and 24.3% respectively. In addition, a significant dose–effect correlation was observed for orlistat and PT. This study provides valid quantitative information for medication guidelines.

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