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Drugs combo beats leading anti-obesity pill

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Obesity can be effectively treated by two drugs, scientists have found.

A US study found phentermine and topiramate are more effective when taken in combination than the leading anti-obesity pill, orlistat.

Researchers concluded that taking the drugs in combination not only helps patients lose weight but also helps to lower blood pressure and levels of harmful fatty molecules and sugar in the blood.

Some 2,500 overweight and obese adults took part in the study. They were split into groups who received a 56-week course of treatment with different doses of the drugs or a “dummy” placebo.

The results of the “Conquer” Phase III trial have been published online in The Lancet medical journal.

They showed that patients taking the drugs in higher doses lost 10.2 kilograms, or 22 pounds, on average.

Overall, 70% of patients in the higher dose group achieved 5 per cent weight loss. This compared with 21 per cent of those in the placebo group, and 62 per cent of those taking the lower dose.

The combination was more effective than orlistat, currently the only anti-obesity drug available on the NHS.

In some diabetic patients, it achieved more than double the weight loss seen after up to four years treatment with orlistat.

The scientists, led by Dr Kishore Gadde, from Duke University Medical Centre in Durham, US, wrote: “Most importantly, weight loss achieved with phentermine and topiramate was sustained during 56 weeks with improvements in blood pressure, lipids (blood fats), glycaemia (blood sugar) and inflammatory markers.

“The combination of phentermine and topiramate, with office-based lifestyle interventions, might be a valuable treatment for obesity that can be provided by family doctors.”

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