Fat Loss Biology
Contrave Diet Pills in Laboratory

Contrave diet pills are a combination of two different prescription medications, one first approved as an antidepressant and the other as a treatment for alcohol and drug addiction. The FDA first approved, then later rejected, this drug. You can bet that Contrave will eventually win approval again. Here is what you should know.

Contrave Diet Pills Overview

Two previously approved prescription drugs, the antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban) and the addiction treatment naltraxone, were suggested to potentially have a synergistic effect for weight loss. Drug companies invest a tremendous amount of money to get a drug approved by the FDA (now more than half a billion dollars each). They are constantly looking for new ways to use already approved drugs, which will help to offset development costs and to extend patents beyond their original expiration date (usually 17 years after being granted).

Contrave is a typical example whereby already approved drugs are combined, in hopes of providing lateral applications (i.e., other than original uses) that will gain FDA approval. In this case, the lateral application is for weight loss. As you can see from the overview at Wikipedia, Contrave was first approved, then rejected as a diet pills drug.

This is the summary of Contrave on Wikipedia

Contrave Diet Pills - Wikipedia 

It is always a curiosity to me when the control (untreated) group in a weight loss study also loses weight. That means that the control group is, indeed, treated – just not with the drug. Typically ‘control’ groups show weight loss because of the diet they followed during the study. Note that this diet alone led to a loss of 5% (11-16 lbs) during one 56-week study. The Contrave-plus-diet combination led to a loss of 20-23 lbs during the same period.

Statistics, as usual, can be viewed in different ways. The actual research shows the following, as summarized in a 2011 journal publication:

Contrave Diet Pills Research 2011

Different statistical analyses showed the placebo group vs. the drug treatment group to differ in percent weight loss as follows (placebo is the first number):

  • 5.1 vs. 9.3 percent
  • 7.2 vs. 11.5 percent
  • 4.9 vs. 7.8 percent

I don’t know what you think of these numbers. However, in my opinion, they are not very impressive for the drug treatment. How good the results are should be an especially important consideration when deciding whether they are good enough to put up with the side effects of treatment.

What these might be is hinted at in the requirements that the FDA set forth before it will approve this drug again: “…an extremely large-scale study of the long-term cardiovascular effects of Contrave would be needed,…” Hmm. Do you think some cardiovascular problems showed up before? No doubt. I already feel sorry for the human subjects who will be in the ‘large-scale’ study.

Oh, and that comment about nausea…it turns out to happen in about 30 percent of those taking the drug. Great, huh?


At the moment, recommendations would be irrelevant. Contrave is still in the reapproval process and isn’t available. Nevertheless, whenever it does appear on the market – and you can bet it will – I will still hold a dim view of it.

Commenting on future Contrave diet pills,

Dr. D

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