Qsymia Review for Weight Loss: Cost and Benefit

Qsymia diet pill

Qsymia (phentermine and topiramate) is one of several weight loss medications approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Before you talk to your doctor about a prescription, learn the research behind Qsymia to make an informed decision. Together with your doctor, you can decide on whether or not this medication is the right choice for you.

Qsymia may help with weight loss, but there are additional side effects to consider before starting this medication. Here are a few things to think about.

How Qsymia Works

Qsymia is a combination of two drugs: phentermine and topiramate. Phentermine was originally used as part of the popular phen-fen drug combination, fenfluramine. Due to safety concerns, fenfluramine was eventually taken off the market. The formulation of Qsymia is different from the phentermine-based prescriptions that were used in the past.

Topiramate is a drug that has been traditionally used for the treatment of epilepsy and migraines. Qsymia combines phentermine and topiramate to suppress appetite and reduce food intake. This combination of substances has been proven to promote weight loss.

Qsymia may be prescribed for adults who have a body mass index (BMI) over 30. If you have a BMI of 27 or higher, along with a weight-related condition (such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure) your doctor may also recommend Qsymia.

People who are prescribed Qsymia are still expected to follow a healthy eating and exercise program in order to gain the full benefits of taking it.

Qsymia Results

In published clinical trials, patients who took a lower dose of Qsymia (3.75mg phentermine/23mg topiramate) lost an average of 6.7% of their weight. On the higher recommended dose (7.5mg phentermine/46mg topiramate), patients lost an average of 8.9% of their total body weight. Higher doses of Qsymia, up to 15mg phentermine/92mg topiramate, are also available.

If you are thinking about taking Qsymia, you can use this information to estimate your potential weight loss range. For example, based on clinical results, a patient who weighs 250 pounds could reasonably expect to lose 17 to 22 pounds of their starting body weight.

Individual results will vary, but the benefits of this medication rely on congruent lifestyle modifications, especially to achieve long-term success with weight loss.

Patients who take Qsymia should be monitored regularly by their physician. If you don't lose at least 3% of your body weight within the first 12 weeks, your doctor may advise you to discontinue the drug or to take a higher dose. If, after moving to a higher dose, you do not lose at least 5% of your weight, it's recommended to stop taking the pill gradually.

It can be dangerous to stop taking Qsymia abruptly, especially if you are on a higher dose. Some people do not respond to the effects of Qsymia at any dose and should not continue taking it if it doesn't work for them.

Qsymia Side Effects

Studies have shown an increased risk of cleft palate development in babies born to women taking topiramate during their first trimester. For this reason, it is advised that women of childbearing age take a monthly pregnancy test while on Qsymia.

Women must know immediately if they become pregnant while on Qsymia as this knowledge provides the opportunity to stop taking the drug before birth defects occur. Other possible side effects of Qsymia include mood changes, trouble sleeping, kidney stones, fever, and seizures (if the medication is stopped too suddenly).

Patients are advised to receive regular heart-rate monitoring while on Qsymia. Qsymia is not recommended in people with cardiac issues or cerebrovascular disease. If you take medications for diabetes, high blood pressure, or anxiety, your doctor may need to adjust your dosage.

It's a good idea to read through the complete drug information guide that should be provided to you by your doctor or pharmacist before you begin taking the Qsymia.

Price and Total Cost of Qsymia

The total price of Qsymia depends on the pharmacy and a few other factors. Several pharmacies sell a month’s supply of Qsymia at prices ranging from $180–$220, but your actual cost may depend on the dose that your physician prescribes. Taking the lower dose of medication is generally less expensive averaging $120 per month wholesale.

Your insurance company may pay partially, or in full, for the medication. Since plans vary and change, check with your carrier to see if it is covered on your current plan. The makers of Qsymia also offer coupons to help you manage the cost of the diet pill if insurance doesn't cover the prescription. 

If you're a woman who can get pregnant, be sure to factor in the cost of a monthly pregnancy test when tallying total cost. You can also talk to your doctor about a plan for having testing done as part of your office visits.

If you choose to invest in Qsymia, be aware that only certain pharmacies may dispense the drug. As part of an agreement with the FDA, drugmaker Vivus agreed to sell the medication only through pharmacies that take part in an educational program that ensures patients receive risk reduction information along with their medication.

Who Should Take Qsymia

Qsymia should not be taken by people who only have a few pounds to lose. If you meet the BMI criteria and have tried other methods of weight loss without success, Qsymia may be able to help. According to a 2012 article published in The New England Journal of Medicine, some patients who took Qsymia were able to improve their blood pressure and cholesterol levels, in addition to losing weight.

If you're a woman who is planning to have children in the future, take extra caution before deciding to start Qsymia. If you are on medications for other health conditions, you should also be mindful of possible interactions. Adjust your dosages per your doctor's recommendations, and stay up-to-date on follow-up visits to monitor your body's response to Qsymia.

A Word From Verywell

Talk to your doctor about the potential health benefits of losing weight with Qsymia. Discussing your specific medical history and future plans will help you make the best decision with your provider.

It's important to remember that no pill can take the place of a healthy lifestyle. Not every medication works the same way for everyone. Monitoring your progress with your doctor will help you stay safe and avoid negative side effects.

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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Medications target long-term weight control. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Published 2012.

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