Is Contrave the safe and effective prescription diet pill

Contrave looks like the answers to every overweight person’s dream. It makes you feel full sooner and stops cravings for the sugary, fatty treats that bust the best diet intentions.

“It works on two parts of the brain that make us fat.” It’s a miracle, right? It’s the miracle we’ve been looking for for decades, right?


Actually, no it’s not. It might be better than nothing for some people and for others it should be avoided at all costs. The ads you see on TV don’t tell the whole story. They do exactly what a commercial is supposed to do, make you eager to get your hands on Contrave and overlook the possibility that it may not work very well and it could cause real harm to your body.

I am not against medically assisted weight loss. I believe that it’s both necessary and life saving, but having said that, I don’t believe that a pill prescribed by a doctor is always the best way to cure an ill. I certainly will never sit in judgment of anybody who seeks medical advice or intervention to lose weight. I don’t believe getting help, including weight loss surgery, is cheating. As far as I’m concerned there is no such thing as cheating in weight loss. We might get some help, but essentially we have to do the work ourself if we are to see and keep results.

The current crop of weight loss drugs, Alli or Xenical, Belviq, Qsymia, and Saxenda, all show only modest weight loss results and there’s the risk of serious side effects. Contrave is no more effective and has no fewer serious side effects. Some questions about long term use and heart damage have yet to be answered.

When tested against placebo use the weight loss results were minimal.

According to Consumer Reports, May 5, 2016:

One of the largest clinical trials to date of Contrave shows obese and overweight people who took the drug for up to 56 weeks lost an average of 12 pounds (or about 5 percent of their body weight), compared with an average of 3 pounds (or 1 percent of their body weight) among those who took a placebo. Both groups were also put on a reduced calorie diet, exercised, and received behavioral counseling.

To put that into perspective, we estimated that a person weighing 220 pounds who takes Contrave for a year could expect to lose about 12 pounds total: 9 pounds from the drug itself and 3 pounds from diet and exercise.”  

That pretty much answers the question about whether or not Contrave is effective. If losing 12 pounds after more than a year on the drug is an acceptable rate of weight loss, then I guess it’s effective. Considering the people taking the placebo lost almost as much weight, leads me to say, “it’s barely effective.”


I’m sure outside of the studies there are individuals who have had great success with Contrave. I don’t personally know any of these people, but I’m sure there are some people for whom it’s worked very well. It might work well for you, but don’t expect it to be as easy as it appears on the TV commercials.

Most commercial advertising you see on TV is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC law requires truth in advertising. It cannot be deceptive or unfair, and must be evidence-based. This includes over the counter (OTC) weight loss drugs.

Prescription drugs commercial advertising, such as Contrave, are regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA doesn’t approve or preview the commercials before you see them. Drug manufacturers are not limited by how much money they can spend advertising a drug including drugs with serious side effects.

The commercials are the products of slick advertising agencies that create them without the oversight of the FTC to ensure they are not deceptive. In the middle of the commercial is the laundry list of the dangers associated with the drug, but the final image is happy people rejoicing over their drug-induced ability to stop cravings. Contrave TV Commercial

Pause the video each time a new message appears 

It’s the small print that matters. The viewers eyes are drawn to the images on the screen, not the small print. The message that’s getting through to us is from the voiceover of the announcer, not the actual clinical results displayed at the bottom of the screen.

Contrave may be the answer for you but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work the way the TV ads have led you to believe. The first step is to consult a trusted physician. If you and your doctor determine Contrave may be right for you, you’ll know for sure after three months.

According to the information on the Contrave drug label, if you haven’t dropped at least 5 percent of your weight after three months of taking the drug at the target dose, you should stop taking it because it’s unlikely that you ever will.

You could avoid the serious health risks and make better progress with a weight loss with a plan that combines healthy eating and physical activity with a behavioral program that’s reinforced in an environment of group support. Through this method you benefit from multiple strategies to help you switch and enjoy healthier eating and increased physical activity.

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.