Obesity is an increasingly serious issue in the United States with over 69% of the population overweight and of those almost 40% are considered obese. Americans seek a quick and easy way to lose weight and frequently turn to drug therapy for quick results.

I am Sahm Adrangi of Kerrisdale Capital Management. Kerrisdale Capital is known for exposing undersold longs and overhyped shorts that the market may misunderstand. In my work as the CIO of Kerrisdale Capital, I have published research as Sahm Adrangi in industries like biopharmaceuticals.

Today, I will discuss the efficacy and safety of anti-obesity medications.

Who can be treated?

Federal guidelines require that weightloss therapy can only be indicated for those who fit one of these criteria:

  • A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or more
  • A BMI of 25 to 29.9 with at least two risk factors for weight related diseases
  • A waist circumference greater than 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women plus two weight-related health risks.

Popular Anti-Obesity Medications

Currently, weight loss medications that are most readily available by the FDA are for short term use – ranging from a couple weeks to a few months.

There are several different drug groups that are used for weight loss. The following are common drug classes for anti-obesity:

  • Appetite Suppressant such as Didrex, Tenuate, Sanorex, Mazanor, and Adipex-P
  • Lipase Inhibitor such as Xenical
  • Serotonin 5-HT2C Receptor Agonist such as Lorcaserin
  • Glucagon-like Peptide-1 Agonist such as Liraglutide
  • Sympathomimetic Amines such as Diethylpropion and Phentermine

Does prescription weight loss really work?

Drug therapy alone won’t completely shed off all of your weight. Instead the idea is to target a percentage of your body fat to reach an ideal weight to prevent comorbidities and decrease weight-related health risks.

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This is typically a range between 10-15% body fat loss with diligent adherence and healthy lifestyle regimen over a period of about 6 months. Once weight is lost, the goal is to keep it away with a healthy diet and exercise, along with behavioral therapy.


Like most drugs, obesity medications may have adverse side effects that can range from uncomfortable to serious health risks. Some of the side effects may include gastrointestinal effects, possible liver damage, pancreatitis, kidney stones, decrease in immunity, and much more. Each class of drugs has their own adverse effects, so it’s important to be monitored by your doctor while on anti-obesity medications.

Sahm Adrangi – Are weight loss medications safe?

As Sahm Adrangi, an investment officer and short activist at Kerrisdale Capital, I have studied new and current biopharmaceuticals available and tested in the market. Kerrisdale Capital aims their efforts on reviewing a variety of industries that may not be fully understood in the market.

Anti-obesity medications that have passed the phases of drug approval are deemed to be safe. However, in the case of newer medications, long term effects are not well-documented and may be even unknown. In some cases, medications are pulled off the shelf because of serious adverse effects.

Biopharmaceutical companies are constantly developing new and improved ways to aid in the treatment of obesity systems. However, not all drugs the FDA approves for human trials are yet deemed safe. Some anti-obesity medications undergoing trial have been known to have serious side effects ranging from adverse effects to even death.

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Before you begin a weight loss medication, it’s important to listen to your doctor and discuss options that would best suit you. The potential side effects should be worth it to your health and a chance of 5-15% weight loss.

About Sahm Adrangi

Sahm Adrangi is the founder and Chief Investment Officer at Kerrisdale Capital Management. Mr. Adrangi first made a name for himself through the outing of fraudulent Chinese Companies. He has continued his work as a short activist, sharing research in a variety of industries and companies. Mr. Adrangi has been featured in national publications and as a guest speaker at a number of conferences including the Value Investing Conference and the Sohn Conference.