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Prescrire Int. 2015 Oct;24(164):229-33.

Naltrexone + bupropion (Mysimba). Too risky for only modest weight loss.

[No authors listed]


Weight loss and its long-term maintenance are mainly based on dietary measures and regular physical activity. There are currently no weight-loss medications with a favourable harm-benefit balance. Bupropion is chemically related to certain amphetamines, while naltrexone is an opioid receptor antagonist. A fixed-dose combination of these two drugs has received marketing authorisation in the European Union for obese patients and for over-weight patients with other cardiovascular risk factors. In five placebo-controlled, randomised, double-blind trials, the patients, weighing on average between 100 kg and 105 kg (average body mass index 36 kg/m2), the naltrexone + bupropion combination was associated with an average weight loss of a few additional kilograms compared with placebo, after 6 months or one year of treatment. There are no post-trial follow-up data to show whether or not the patients regained their lost weight after treatment discontinuation. One trial including more than 8900 patients examined the effect of the naltrexone + bupropion combination on the freauency of maior cardiovascular events, but poor handling of an interim analysis undermined the validity of the final results. The known adverse effects of bupropion consist of potentially severe neuropsychiatric disorders such as aggressiveness, depression and suicidal ideation, and also allergic reactions, including Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Misuse and excessive consumption have been reported. In trials in obese or overweight patients, the naltrexone + bupropion combination caused sometimes severe neuropsychiatric disorders, including seizures, cognitive impairment, dizziness, anxiety, sleep disorders and psychotic symptoms. In clinical trials, the combination led to an increase in blood pressure compared with placebo, and also an excess of cardiac arrhythmias. About half of patients who took naltrexone + bupropion experienced gastrointestinal disorders such as nausea, vomiting and constipation. The naltrexone + bupropion combination is subject to many pharmacokinetic interactions, as well as pharmacodynamic interactions leading to additive convulsive or hypertensive effects, or undermining the action of antihypertensive drugs. A teratogenic effect of bupropion cannot be ruled out. In practice, given the limited effect of the naltrexone + bupropion combination on weight loss (a few kilograms), along with the lack of evidence supporting a persistent benefit or a decrease in the clinical complications of obesity, there is no reason to expose patients to its many potentially severe adverse effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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