Empatic is currently in clinical trials as is a second combination drug developed by Orexigen – Contrave. Empatic combines a seizure medication and depression medication both with histories of causing weight loss. Seizure medications have been used for alternative treatments such as bipolar disorder for many years. The medication has finished the second stage of clinical trials.
How Does Empatic Increase Weight Loss?
As an experimental drug, there is very little information on how the combination weight loss drug works to increase weight loss. What is known is attributed to the effects of Zonisamide and Bupropion. Zonisamide is known to cause anorexia, loss of appetite and weight loss. These are listed as adverse or negative side effects on the official website. In terms of weight loss, these adverse side effects are the desired reaction in the body. Bupropion lists weight loss as a side effect for some, but not all, patients.
Does Bupropion Decrease the Effects of Zonisamide?
According to the literature on Bupropion, the drug should not be taken with some anti-seizure medications. There is no reason listed for the contraindication. Bupropion is also known to cause seizures in some patients. The addition of Zonisamide in Empatic could be used to reverse this effect, but a looming fear about potential negative side effects will be there until Orexigen discusses the interaction.
Weight Loss and Mental Health
Several anti-depressant and bipolar disorder medications can cause weight gain. Patients currently taking anti-depressant or anti-seizure medication for depression, bipolar disorder or other form of mental illness should consult with the prescribing doctor before taking Empatic. Empatic may interfere with these medications. For patients diagnosed with a mental disorder, Empatic could affect mood and stability. Anxiety, nervousness and suicidal thoughts are potential side effects of Zonisamide, Bupropion or both.
The Orexigen Push
The official description of Empatic on the Orexigen website explains the effects of Zonisamide and Bupropion on weight loss. According to Orexigen, when taken as a standalone medication, Zonisamide showed modest weight loss effects. Bupropion is associated with reduction in appetite and energy metabolism increases, which have lead to weight loss in some patients. Weight loss as a result of taking Bupropion is short-lived in most cases, according to study results, as the body gets used to the drug and weight is regained. Contrave, another Orexigen drug in clinical trials, combines Bupropion and naltrexone. Naltrexone is included to block weight gain. Orexigen does not state whether Zonisamide is used for the same reason in Empatic.
“Orexigen® Product Candidates.”Orexigen® Therapeutics. Web. 07 June 2010.
“Contrave: New Weight Loss Drug Advances.”WebMD – Better Information. Better Health. Web. 07 June 2010.