Epilepsy drugs prevent seizures. Some, like carbamazepine and Neurontin (gabapentin), can cause weight gain. Possible alternatives are Lamictal (lamotrigine), Topamax (topiramate) and Zonegran (zonisamide).
Roux said women taking birth control pills also may be "big gainers."
Switching to weight-neutral drugs won't work for everyone, Roux cautioned.
"They have different mechanisms of action, and their particular disease state might not be controlled," he said. "First and foremost is the disease state that's causing the biggest hindrance upon their lifestyle. That should be the first order of business."
People should talk to their health care providers if they're troubled by weight gain, Roux said.
"I advocate patients talking with the pharmacist first, so they don't just arbitrarily stop their medication before their next [medical] appointment," Roux said. "It should not be an embarrassment either to a patient or a provider to try to dig in, to get into a person's specific comfort level with their medication."
And, Cheskin added, "with all the attention on the environmental factors causing obesity, people may not be aware that what we're prescribing for you may not help and may push someone in the wrong direction."
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health describes medication side effects, including weight gain.
SOURCES: Ryan Roux, PharmD, chief pharmacy officer, Harris County Hospital District, Houston; Lawrence J. Cheskin, M.D., FACP, director, Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center, Baltimore
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