Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice. All statements are merely the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to prescription weight loss medication.
Qsymia is a prescription weight loss medication. The brand’s website claims that it causes an average weight loss of 24-32 pounds and a 4-5 inch drop in waist circumference.
The generic term for this medication is phentermine and topiramate extended release capsules, and we will use these terms interchangeably throughout this article as they refer to the same active drug ingredients.
But is Qsymia actually proven to have these effects in clinical studies? Are there any health risks to taking Qsymia? What’s the cheapest way to access the medication? And how do real users rate and describe the effects of Qsymia?
In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we review medical studies on Qsymia to determine if the manufacturer’s claims are accurate.
We’ll also highlight side effects, explain the cheapest way to access Qsymia and feature real, unsponsored Qsymia patient reviews.
Research Review – How Effective is Qsymia?
Qsymia has been studied in various clinical trials for its effects on weight loss.
A 2015 medical review analyzed data from a number of clinical trials on Qsymia and concluded that, on average, patients lost 10% of their initial weight. This is a relatively high amount given that most trials were less than a year long.
A clinical trial published in the Obesity journal analyzed the effectiveness of Qsymia for weight loss in obese patients. The trial lasted 28 weeks, and the lower dose of Qsymia caused 8.5% body weight loss, and the higher dose caused 9.2% body weight loss.
This trial reported that Qsymia was more effective than either of the two active drug ingredients in Qsymia taken alone.
A 2018 clinical trial tested the efficacy of Qsymia for a specific type of disorder associated with obesity: binge eating disorder. The medication not only caused weight loss, but it also reduced binge eating behavior and food cravings.
Based on the available research, we conclude that Qsymia is likely to be effective for weight loss in overweight and obese patients. It may be especially effective for overweight patients with binge eating disorder, as the drug has been proven effective for both conditions.
But does the drug cause side effects? We’ll analyze in the next section.
Does Qsymia Cause Side Effects?
Qsymia can cause side effects in some patients. The drug’s FDA label lists the most common side effects as: tingling extremities, dizziness, change of taste, insomnia, constipation and dry mount. All of these effects are reported as being experienced in 5% or more patients.
A 2013 medical review examined the side effects of Qsymia and reported that dizziness, insomnia and taste disturbances occurred in 10% or more patients, but that there were no severe side effects such as cardiovascular issues or suicide attempts.
One good sign about Qsymia is that the medication is free of a “black box” warning. As we documented in our Ozempic reviews article on another prescription medication used for weight loss, black box warnings are mandated by the FDA when there is a risk of severe and life-threatening side effects.
The fact that there is no such warning on the Qsymia label suggests that serious side effects are unlikely from the drug.
Real, Unsponsored Qsymia User Reviews
A TikTok user named “KateWinsletsMom” shares her experience on Qsymia:
@katewinsletsmom 1 month Qsymia update. #qsymia #weightlossjouney #wegovy #saxenda ♬ Stunnin' (feat. Harm Franklin) - Curtis Waters
A YouTube creator explains why she had to stop using Qsymia due to what she describes as a “major side effect:”
How Can I Get a Qsymia Prescription?
We typically recommend that patients ask their doctor about the generic form of medications, since they should be equally effective to brand-name versions but are often much cheaper.
Unfortunately, since Qsymia was recently approved by the FDA, there is no generic version available at the time of publishing this article.
Patients can visit the official Qsymia website and speak with their doctor about whether a prescription is right for them.
For patients seeking cost savings, Qsymia has a Cost Savings page on their website with a coupon that can help save up to $65. Relative to other prescription weight loss medications, Qsymia is relatively affordable. Its retail price is around $200 according to GoodRx, and patients with health insurance will often pay a much lower rate.
Real Patients Review Qsymia
Qsymia has been reviewed over 500 times on Drugs.com, which is a website that allows patients to publish real, honest reviews of medications they’re taking and rate the medications.
Qsymia has an impressive 7.7 out of 10 average review rating, which is higher than most weight loss medications we’ve reviewed on Illuminate Health.
The top positive review is written by a user named “SS” who claims the drug caused significant weight loss:
“I have been taking Qsymia for a year and 4 months to help me lose weight. I lost 70 lbs . I feel great…My metabolic dr says it’s safe to continue. I’m in the lowest dose. ( 7.5) . This drug changed my life."
The top negative review comes from a user named “AmyHS1978” who gave the drug a 2/10 star rating and claims it caused side effects:
“This medicine has has ignited a fire in my brain. I am at the point where I seriously think I'm going crazy. I urge you to disclose fully to your doctor if you suffer from chronic depression and urge you to reconsider taking this medicine. I begged my husband to commit me yesterday, that was my mental state.”
Qsymia is prescribed at four different doses, according to StatPearls: 3.75 milligrams (mg) phentermine/23 mg topiramate, 7.5 mg/46 mg, 11.25 mg/ 69 mg and 15 mg/92 mg.
Most patients start on the lowest dose, because if a patient is experiencing benefit at the lowest dose they can remain there. This will reduce the risk of side effects.
If a patient isn’t experiencing weight loss at the lowest approved dose, their doctor may gradually increase their dose until they reach the maximum. StatPearls notes that if 5% body weight loss is not achieved within 12 weeks on the highest dose, the doctor may recommend slowly tapering off the medication because the risk of side effects versus potential benefit may not be worth it at that point.
How Does Qsymia Work?
Researchers aren’t exactly clear on why Qsymia is effective for weight loss, but it may be due to its effects on appetite. A medical review published in the Expert Opinion on Drug Safety journal found that Qsymia suppresses the appetite and reduces cravings.
Qsymia is a stimulant drug, and stimulants are known to have appetite-suppressant effects as we documented in our article on how does phentermine work.
Some weight loss drugs increase metabolism and some can increase the sense of fullness by filling up the stomach with non-caloric matter, but it makes sense that the mechanism of action of Qsymia is appetite reduction given the clinical study proving it to be effective for binge eaters.
Our Clean Weight Loss Picks
There are food-based nutrients which have been shown in medical studies to be effective for weight loss.
Dietary fiber was shown in a medical review published in The Journal of Nutrition to cause 16 pounds of weight loss in 6 months when combined with moderate caloric restriction (750 calories per day below baseline).
Supergut Fiber Mix is our top fiber supplement, because it contains three different types of fiber powder, and retails for only $1.75 per serving at a subscription rate.
MCT oil was shown in a meta-study to cause more than one pound of weight loss over 10 weeks. This equates to potential annualized weight loss of 6 pounds per year with less than one tablespoon's worth of MCT oil per day.
Bulletproof MCT Oil is our top MCT oil product, because the only ingredient is MCT oil derived from coconuts. and it currently costs only $15.50 for over a month's worth of product.
Ginger intake "significantly decreased body weight" according to a 2019 meta-study on ginger and weight loss that analyzed data from 14 clinical trials.
Pique La Ginger is our top ginger product, because it's an organic tea in convenient crystallized form, and all that's needed is to pour the powder into a glass and add hot water.
All three of the products mentioned in this section are entirely free of additive ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy or unsafe.
We are not suggesting that any of the products referenced in this section are as effective as Qsymia, or any other FDA-approved weight loss medication. Rather, we're sharing options that patients with an aversion to pharmaceutical medication may wish to speak to their doctor about.