Side Effects of Obesity Drugs – 2015 Chart

Approved Use: A combination of topiramate, a drug commonly prescribed for migraines and as an anti-seizure. People who meet the CDC’s criteria for obesity, e.g., anyone with a BMI of 30 or greater. People with a BMI greater than 27 who have a known weight-related health condition such as diabetes or heart disease This drug should NOT be taken by pregnant women; those with glaucoma or overactive thyroid; anyone taking an MAOI antidepressant; anyone with an allergy to the active ingredients.

QYSMIA Side Effects

Common but not serious:

  • Back pain
  • change in taste
  • difficult bowel movements
  • ear congestion
  • fear or nervousness
  • loss of taste
  • loss of voice
  • memory problems
  • pain or tenderness around the eyes/cheekbones
  • sneezing
  • stuffy/runny nose
  • insomnia

Common but not serious:

  • Chest discomfort
  • convulsions
  • decreased urine
  • fast, irregular, pounding, or racing heartbeat or pulse
  • loss of appetite
  • mood changes
  • muscle pain or cramps
  • nausea or vomiting
  • numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or lips
  • shortness of breath, unusual tiredness/weakness

Less Common, not serious:

  • Belching
  • cramps
  • decreased appetite
  • dry eyes
  • eye pain
  • hair loss
  • heartburn or indigestion
  • heavy bleeding
  • irritability
  • rash
  • stomach discomfort, upset, or pain

Rare, more serious:

  • Bloody urine
  • pain in the groin or genitals
  • sharp back pain below ribs
Effectiveness: Although no magic bullet, this drug has fared better in trials compared to Belviq. However, different trial designs make it difficult to do a side-by-side comparison of the two and they have never been compared head-to-head.About half of the 4,430 overweight and obese patients in the Qsymia studies on the recommended dosage lost an average of 10% of their weight in the first year of taking the drug.In trials, 70% of people taking Qsymia lost at least 5% of their body weight compared to just 20% of patients taking an inactive placebo.
Other Considerations: Some lingering doubts about safety and efficacy of this drug remain which is why the FDA has required Quysmia’s parent company, Vivus, to continue studying the drug for up to five additional years to rule out long-term cardiovascular risks.A one-month supply costs $120 – $190 depending upon the dosage.


As a fat blocker, the drug blocks between 25%-30% of dietary fat from a meal.
Approved Use: People who meet the CDC’s criteria for obesity, e.g., anyone with a BMI of 30 or greater.

People with a BMI greater than 27 who have a known weight-related health condition such as diabetes or heart disease

This drug should NOT be taken by those allergic to it or by anyone with chronic malabsorption syndrome, gallbladder problems.

Tell your doctor if you have an underactive thyroid; a history of gallstones; a history of pancreatitis; liver disease; type 1 or type 2 diabetes; an eating disorder; you take any other weight-loss medications; pregnant or nursing
Patients anecdotally report that side effects such as oily stools, abdominal bloating and gas may persist for several months after ceasing drug usage.


Common, less serious:

  • Abdominal or stomach pain or discomfort
  • back pain
  • difficulty with moving
  • gas with leaky bowel movements
  • inability to hold bowel movement
  • increases in bowel movements
  • loss of bowel control
  • oily bowel movements
  • oily spotting of underclothes

Less common, less serious:

  • Itching of the vagina or genital area
  • menstrual changes
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • rectal pain or discomfort
  • thick, white vaginal discharge with no odor or with a mild odor

Common, more serious:

  • Bladder pain
  • body aches
  • chills
  • cough
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty breathing
  • ear congestion
  • fever
  • general feeling of discomfort
  • headache
  • loss of appetite
  • loss of voice
  • lower back or side pain
  • muscle aches and pains
  • nasal congestion
  • nausea
  • runny nose
  • shivering
  • sneezing
  • sore throat
  • sweating
  • trouble sleeping
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • vomiting

Less common, more serious:

  • Tightness in the chest
  • tooth or gum problems
  • troubled breathing
  • wheezing

Rare, more serious:

  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • change in hearing
  • contagious diarrhea
  • dark urine
  • difficult or painful urination
  • earache
  • fast heartbeat
  • frequent urge to urinate
  • general tiredness and weakness
  • hives
  • hoarseness
  • irritation
  • itching
  • joint pain, stiffness, or swelling
  • large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs
  • light-colored stools
  • noisy breathing
  • pain in the ears
  • rash
  • redness of the skin
  • shortness of breath
  • skin blisters
  • swelling of the eyelids, face, lips, hands, or feet
  • troubled swallowing
  • upper right abdominal or stomach pain
  • yellow eyes and skin
Effectiveness The drug has demonstrated only a modest effect on weight loss. In trials, average weight loss after one year has been about 5 to 7 pounds greater than diet and exercise alone.
Other Considerations Also available without prescription over the counter under the brand name Alli. The cost is variable with
the average $100-$199 for a month’s supply. Discount coupons and samples are readily available.

Originally published: November 13, 2013

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Liz Neporent

Liz Neporent is a health and fitness expert, writer and social media consultant. She is a regular contributor to ABC News and author and coauthor of 15 health books including Fitness for Dummies, now in its 4th edition. In her work with Harvard Medical School Publications she co-wrote the acclaimed best seller The Winner’s Brain as well as the recently released Harvard Medical School’s Guide to Managing Migraines and Change Your Gambling Change Your Life. She also serves on the emeritus board and is a national spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise, a leading national authority on fitness and weight loss.

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