The journey of weight loss drugs has been one marked by continuous evolution and innovation. Over the years, these medications have progressed from simple appetite suppressants to sophisticated treatments targeting various aspects of metabolism and appetite control. This blog explores the historical development of weight loss drugs, culminating in advanced options like Saxenda.

Early Beginnings

The history of weight loss drugs began in the early 20th century with the use of thyroid extracts for treating obesity. This was followed by the introduction of amphetamines in the 1930s, which suppressed appetite but had significant side effects and potential for abuse.


The Age of Appetite Suppressants

In the 1950s, appetite suppressants, known as anorectics, became popular. Drugs like phentermine were widely prescribed. However, the later part of the 20th century saw the rise and fall of several such drugs due to concerns over cardiovascular side effects and addiction.


The Fen-Phen Era

The 1990s witnessed the popularity of the Fen-Phen combination (fenfluramine and phentermine). Initially hailed as a breakthrough, it was soon linked to heart valve disease, leading to its withdrawal from the market in 1997.


The Emergence of Orlistat

Orlistat, introduced in the late 1990s, marked a shift in weight loss medication. Unlike its predecessors, it worked by inhibiting fat absorption in the intestines. Orlistat was the first of a new generation of obesity drugs that targeted metabolic pathways without major impacts on the central nervous system.


The Introduction of Saxenda

Saxenda (liraglutide), approved in 2014, is a GLP-1 receptor agonist initially developed for diabetes treatment. It mimics an intestinal hormone that tells the brain your stomach is full. Saxenda, administered via injection, has shown effectiveness in chronic weight management alongside a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity.


The Role of GLP-1 Receptor Agonists

The success of Saxenda paved the way for further exploration of GLP-1 receptor agonists in weight management. These drugs not only reduce appetite but also improve glycemic control, making them a dual weapon against obesity and diabetes.


Recent Innovations and Future Directions

The latest in weight loss drug development focuses on multi-agonists targeting more than one metabolic pathway. These include drugs that act on both GLP-1 and other peptides, offering a more comprehensive approach to weight loss and metabolic health.



The evolution of weight loss drugs reflects the growing understanding of obesity as a complex medical condition requiring multifaceted treatment approaches. As research continues, we are likely to see more innovative treatments that offer safe, effective, and sustainable weight loss solutions.



This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always consult healthcare professionals for advice tailored to your health and medical needs.

The progression from early, rudimentary treatments to sophisticated medications like Saxenda highlights the medical community’s commitment to providing safer and more effective obesity treatments. As our understanding of obesity and metabolism deepens, the future of weight loss drugs looks promising, with the potential for more breakthroughs that can help individuals achieve and maintain healthy weight goals in a safe and controlled manner.

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