Contrave is a weight loss medication doctors prescribe as a treatment for their most obese patients. Its use was approved by the American FDA in 2014 and the following year the relevant deciding bodies approved it for use in Europe.
Unlike some of the other weight loss medications doctors have at their disposal, Contrave does not contain one drug. It contains two (Buprion and Naltrexone) and although both drugs are normally used as a treatment for other things, including depression (Buprion) and alcohol dependence (Naltrexone), each of them appears to have the potential to encourage some degree of weight loss and their abilities are increased when they are combined.
How Contrave Works
Contrave is an appetite suppressant that works on the mind rather than the body. Once the drug has been consumed it is transported to the brain, via the blood, targets the areas of the central nervous system that are responsible for controlling hunger levels, and causes changes that suppress the appetite.
The manufacturer of Contrave conducted a number of clinical trials before the drug was presented to the FDA for approval. The number of study subjects involved totalled 4,500. All of them were obese and some of them had weight-related problems. Others did not. The study period was a year and all of the study subjects were required to maintain healthy eating habits and exercise regularly. When the data was examined the researchers discovered the people who were given Contrave had lost 4.1% more weight than the people who received a placebo. The FDA referred to this study when they announced their approval of the drug in September 2014.
Usage Guidelines – Contrave capsules should always be swallowed whole and it is important not to consume Contrave alongside meals that have a high fat content or while drinking alcohol as doing either of these things can increase the likelihood of seizure.
Although the normal dose is four capsules each day, new users have to build up to that level gradually. For the first week of use only one capsule is allowed per day. This should be taken in the morning. On the second week patients take a second capsule during the evening. The following week the morning dose is increased to two capsules, but the evening dose remains the same. The full dose, of two capsules each morning and two capsules every evening, comes into force from week four onwards.
Not everyone is a good candidate for treatment with Contrave and doctors have to make a decision based on the official guidelines, their patients’ medical history, and any medication that may presently be in use.
The official guidelines state the drug must always be used alongside diet and exercise, so any patient who is not willing to make a serious commitment to make the necessary lifestyle changes will be unable to attain a prescription for Contrave.
The guidelines also state patients must have attained a minimum BMI of 27 (with weight-related health problems) or a BMI of 30 (without weight related problems).
However, Contrave is not suitable for pregnant women, people who suffer from eating disorders, or anyone who has high blood pressure, a history of seizures, or certain other medical problems.
Contrave is not compatible with some medications, including sedatives, benzosiazepines, anti-seizure drugs, methadone, and buprenorphine.
Potential for Side Effects
Bearing in mind all the considerations regarding its use, it would be nice if Contrave could offer weight loss without side effects, but that is far from being the case.
A few of the more commonly experienced side effects Contrave users may encounter are:
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty sleeping
- Changes in bowel movement
However, less commonly encountered, but more serious side effects, include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Severe allergic reaction
- Increased heart rate
- Manic episodes
- Liver damage/hepatitis
- Suicidal thoughts
- Visual problems
Although it is not one of the worst performing prescription only weight loss drugs, neither does Contrave appear to be one of the best. When researchers compared its abilities to Qsymia, Contrave came a poor second because study subjects who received Qsymia showed a 9% reduction in their body weight and the study subjects who were given Contrave only showed a 5% reduction. However, this was still 2% more than the Belviq users managed to achieve.
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