HealthDay News — According to a study published in the Journal of Pharmacy Practice and Research, health care professionals need education about the safety and effectiveness of weight loss medications.

Areeg Shamsher, PhD, from Ras Al Khaimah Medical and Health Sciences University in the United Arab Emirates, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study involving 250 pharmacists. 

Responses were collected using pre-designed, open-ended questionnaires comprising 4 sections.

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The researchers found that 98 and 96% of pharmacists dispensed prescription weight loss medications and stocked herbal products, respectively. Overall, 32.7% of pharmacists provided patient counseling, for which feedback was received in 59.2% of cases after medication administration. 

Pharmacists ranked the occurrence of adverse events from high to low: kidney stones, diarrhea, hypertension, weakness and fever. Preferred weight loss measures were physical activity and diet control. Overall, 81.8% noted that there were severe adverse effects with prescription weight loss products, and consequently felt that their use should be limited, resulting in a low recommendation level of 30.2%. 

In contrast, 93% of pharmacists believed that adverse effects were less with herbal products. Almost all participants (98.3%) recommended health weight management services, although these were only available in 11.0% of pharmacies.

“The knowledge void pertaining to the use of herbal medications and weight management was discerned in this study and rigorous and quality training for healthcare professionals is proposed,” the authors write.

One author disclosed employment in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.


Shamsher AAA, et al. “Herbal And Prescription Weight Loss Products: Awareness Among Pharmacists About Efficacy And Safety”. Journal of Pharmacy Practice and Research. 2016. doi: 10.1002/jppr.1151.

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