Contrave is an FDA-approved weight-loss medication. The manufacturers of this naltrexone/bupropion product claim that it has a positive effect on the parts of brain responsible for regulating appetite and the brain’s dopamine-controlled reward system.
Our research team conducted a thorough research on the pill, examining hundreds of testimonials and comments from dieters. Take a look at what we have found.
To start, Contrave is a prescription weight-loss medicine for individuals who have a BMI of 30 or greater or a BMI of 27 or greater with a medical condition related to their weight. This prescription drug (it must be doctor recommended) is designed to fight your appetite and to ultimately help you lose weight.
The ingredients are:
Contrave claims to be weight-loss medicine designed to help dieters with both weight loss and weight management. Contrave was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) in September 2014.
If you have a tendency to rapidly gain weight, Contrave may help you keep it off. Or, if you’ve been trying to lose weight the old-fashioned way or with another weight-loss pill, but to no avail, then Contrave may be the next step to try for results.
Contrave Quick Facts
Takeda Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc, which is an offshoot of the biggest pharmaceutical company in Asia, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, and among the top 15 pharmaceutical companies globally. Takeda Pharmaceuticals joined a partnership with Orexigon to commercialize Contrave in 2010. However, in 2016, Orexigon obtained full rights of Contrave.
In 2018, Orexigon sold Contrave to Nalpropiom Pharmaceuticals, a new company, according to BioSpace.
In 2015, a lawsuit was filed against Orexigen, “a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of pharmaceutical product candidates for the treatment of obesity, including Contrave, which it claims ‘regulates appetite and energy expenditure through [central nervous system] activity.'”
“On March 3, 2015, Orexigen disclosed detailed interim results of its study.”
In June 2015, Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc. and Takeda Pharmaceuticals filed a lawsuit against several companies collectively known as Actavis for infringement of the Contrave patent.
Revenue: ¥1,557,267 million (FY 2012)
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You can’t return Contrave.
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The Contrave website provides a lot of information about what this drug is said to do. This gives people a glimpse into how it may be able to help them on their weight loss journey. The following are claims on the website:
Contrave is stated to be the number one prescribed weight loss brand
The site claims that the medication helps to eliminate cravings
It is contended that hunger is reduced in the brain when taking this medication
Compared to exercise and diet alone, Contrave claims to promote two to four times more weight loss
Contrave success stories can be found on the website
The website states that this drug has a well-studied tolerability and safety profile
The site offers resources for people to get help creating their own exercise plan
Depending on how the patient opts to pay for their Contrave, they may find a way to pay just $2 to $4 per day for the medication
Does it Work?
Does Contrave Work?
According to research published in the Diabetes & Metabolism Journal, Contrave caused significant weight reduction in study participants. On average, those who took Contrave for 6 months and combined it with a weight-management program lost 25 pounds, the company says in a statement.
Professional Testimonials About Contrave
Dr. Pieter Cohen, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, researching the effects of dietary supplements, noted that Contrave would require a long-term commitment for very little weight-loss and studies are scarce on Contrave’s long-term effects:
“Even before thinking about the safety of the drug, it’s interesting to take a look at whether or not it’s going to be beneficial.
“The problem with Contrave is that we’re, first off, just talking about a very small amount of weight loss — just over 4 percent in clinical trials. So if you’re 225 pounds, we’re talking about losing less than 10 pounds if you took this for an entire year. If you stopped after a year of taking Contrave, you would very likely gain the weight right back.
“So if you wanted to keep that 10 pounds off for a long period of time, you have to take the medicine for presumably the rest of your life. And we don’t have any safety data regarding its long-term health effects.”
In addition, the findings of Lisa M. Schwartz, M.D., of Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine and the Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, said, “The studies show that Contrave caused many people to feel sick”. Nearly 1 in 4 people in clinical trials stopped taking the medication. Contrave side effects included nausea, vomiting, and headaches, according to Pharmacy and Therapeutics.
To better understand Contrave, our research team took a closer look at the two main ingredients.
This ingredient is an appetite reducing drug that is meant to restore brain chemical imbalances and to keep users from overeating. The Annals of Internal Medicinepublished an up-to-date meta-analysis showing that over a period of 6-12 weeks, patients may experience weight loss of 2.7 kg over placebo.
While this may seem like good news, it’s worth mentioning that the effects of this drug on weight loss were similar to that of other drugs, like Orlistat and sibutramine.
It’s marketed under trade names Revia and Vivitrol.
Naltrexone works together with bupropion on different parts of the user’s brain to decrease their desire for food, much like some other appetite suppressants.
The journal Pharmacy & Therapeutics concluded, “Contrave may serve as a valuable treatment adjunct to lifestyle modifications by promoting satiety, reducing feeding, enhancing energy expenditure, and ultimately helping patients achieve weight loss goals.” In trials, nearly 50% of patients following the Contrave diet lost at least 5% of their body weight. So, if a patient weighs 300 lbs. (136 kg), 5% of that weight is 15 lbs. (6.8 kg).
On its own, that doesn’t sound like a lot, but compared to the placebo group, only about 20% of participants lost that amount of weight.
It’s stressed that if you have any pre-existing health conditions or take over-the-counter or prescription medication to talk with your doctor before taking Contrave. The company also states that you should not take Contrave while pregnant or breastfeeding.
There have not been any reports of Contrave being addictive, but the issue that it would probably have to be a long-term drug to maintain the weight-loss makes this a moot point anyway.
Contrave states that dosing usually starts small and increases over time at your doctor’s discretion. This is to lower the risk of seizures and other medical complications and side effects. Your dosage depends on several factors, including:
Medical conditions at the start of the treatment
The user’s response to the treatment
Other medications you may be taking
When you first start out taking Contrave, the doctor might prescribe just one pill to be taken in the morning, in order to acclimate your body to the new drug. Usually, around the second or third week you can start taking two pills: one in the morning and one in the evening – until you can handle taking four pills a day.
Most Contrave users seem to agree that the weight loss pill is best taken during a meal. You should never change your Contrave dosing on your own. Do not stop, start, increase, or decrease the amount of Contrave you are taking without first consulting your doctor.
Contrave Drug Interactions
Alright, now is a good time to talk a bit about drug interactions.
A prescription weight loss medication like Contrave comes with warnings and potential interactions. When following the Contrave diet, you should watch out for medications that may react negatively to the drug. Your doctor should be able to fill you in on what you can and cannot take with Contrave. There are several prescription and over-the-counter drugs that may affect or interfere with Contrave in the body, as well as change how effective Contrave and the other drug(s) are in the long run.
The same is true if you drink alcohol regularly and suddenly stop in order to take Contrave. You should talk with your doctor about changing the amount you drink before starting a Contrave or other weight loss pill regimen.
Contrave Side Effects
As if the incredible list of interactions and warning weren’t enough – let’s talk about the known side effects of Contrave. Contrave’s insert warns of potential side effects like manic episodes, visual problems and seizures.
Contrave side effects aren’t certain, but still worth considering. They include:
If you experience an allergic reaction to Contrave, stop taking it immediately and contact your doctor. You may be allergic to either bupropion, naltrexone or both.
Contrave Warnings and Precautions:
Contrave states that it should not be taken by pediatric patients. Also, patients of all ages may experience increased:
Irritability, and more.
There are specific reasons why taking Contrave might not be ideal for certain people, so we recommend to always consult with your physician.
In 2015, Takeda of Contrave issued a recall due to the quality of some Contrave products. More than 3,000 products were recalled.
Like other prescription weight loss pills, Contrave for weight loss should be combined with exercise and calorie reduction for the best results. Some patients might ask, “why is Contrave not working?” If this happens, it is essential that they not only ensure they are taking these RX diet pills exactly as prescribed but that they are also adhering to all exercise and calorie reduction guidelines.
Before patients start taking the combination of naltrexone and bupropion weight loss drugs, their doctor will discuss the needed exercise requirements and calorie reduction. This will differ among patients. How much of a calorie reduction is required depends on several factors, such as the patient’s starting weight, their individual nutrition needs, and their weight loss goals. As for exercise, the patient’s personal health and weight loss goals is generally considered. So, patients should consider this information before asking, “why is Contrave not working?”
Who Can NOT Use Contrave
The company states that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid this product. The FDA categorizes this product as a Pregnancy Category X. Those taking and wishing to become pregnant should talk to their doctor before attempting to.
Issues With Contrave Reported to the FDA
When using the Contrave diet pill, it has not been established if it is safe to use an additional weight loss drug or supplement. The FDA also discussed potential problems associated with the television advertisements for this drug. It states that the ad failed to disclose information about other reactions, drug interactions and specific other risks that the FDA deems to be dangerous.
On May 18, 2017, the FDA sent a warning letter concerning one of their television ads. Apparently, the ad did not clearly showcase the risks associated with Contrave.
Contrave offers a pretty sizable list of benefits, which include:
Better overall health
As mentioned in the list, Contrave gives you energy.
Because the drug affects your central nervous system, it makes you feel restless, which could make you want to move around and keep busy.
This condition contributes to the insomnia side effect – often helped by activity or exercise.
Contrave gives you energy so that you will be able to burn more calories, reducing your weight and cravings for food.
It is important to know what the benefits are and how they occur when using Contrave. This makes it possible to determine if this medication is the best for someone seeking to lose weight. The following are the stated benefits of Contrave:
Contrave helps with body set point modulation. This medication may help to prevent plateaus by assisting the body to modulate a more accurate setpoint based on averages. The drug is also said to help patients lose two to four times more weight by helping to reduce appetite and cravings, making it easier to restrict caloric intake.
This drug may have an impact on the central nervous system. It may also have an effect on metabolism, helping to increase it as a result of the naltrexone. Both of these effects may contribute to higher energy.
Giving people more energy, helping with thyroid hormone balance and aiding with body set point modulation and insulin resistance all make it easier for a patient to maintain weight loss and stay at a healthier weight. It is vital that patients are receiving the right maintenance dose, however. It is also imperative that they maintain their diet and exercise plans.
Improved overall health
By losing excess weight, people may be able to reduce their risk of some health issues. In fact, losing five to 15 percent of a person’s total body weight provides benefits.
Other health-related benefits may occur when someone starts to shed excess pounds, such as improved mood and better energy levels. Overall, the effects of weight loss on a person’s health are highly individualized. As patients continue to work with their doctors throughout the process, they will be able to determine which health benefits they experience as their weight decreases.
For many people looking into life-improving products, the cost is an important factor in determining which supplement to go with. The Contrave price depends on the number of pills you are taking. As time goes on, your doctor should slowly increase the amount of Contrave, so you’ll have to pay more.
The overall Contrave cost ranges from $55 per month to $200 per month. It all depends on the amount, location (due to shipping costs), and insurance coverage you have.
However, Contrave gives the opportunity to sign up for a discount coupon plan for people whose health insurance does not cover the drug and those without insurance. You could pay no more than $3 daily for a monthly prescription with this savings card.
Saving Money on Contrave
There are options to save money when using the Contrave diet pill, such as a Contrave discount card or a Contrave coupon. A Contrave coupon card or Contrave discount card is only available when someone is getting their prescription filled at a pharmacy. This option is not available for home delivery. So, how much does Contrave cost? Using a Contrave savings card in a pharmacy brings the cost of this drug to $114.99. While patients cannot use a Contrave savings card with home delivery, the price is $99.
Many also ask, is Contrave covered by insurance? This is often asked when someone is getting the Contrave medication at a pharmacy or when they are looking to buy Contrave online. There is no Contrave generic or other drugs that combine naltrexone and bupropion weight loss. Some insurance plans may cover this drug. Patients seeking this information before getting this FDA approved weight loss medication should ask their doctor, “is Contrave covered by insurance?” Patients might also consult their pharmacist about insurance coverage for this prescribed weight loss medication. Remember there is no Contrave generic version, so no savings concerning this.
Contrave Savings Program
How much does Contrave cost? After checking with the patient’s insurance and exploring their options, they will get an idea about the cost of the Contrave medication for weight loss. From here, they can explore the Contrave savings plan to see how much more money they can save. On the Contrave website, people can either activate a savings card they have or register for one. To register for the savings card for this weight loss RX, patients will be asked about information concerning the following:
Information about the patient’s insurance
Contact Information for Contrave:
The Contrave pill is a trademark of Orexigen. The following is the contact information patients can use to get help or learn more about this weight loss RX:
Patient program information is available 8AM to 8PM EST Monday through Friday at 1-800-905-5576
Report complaints, report adverse side effects and to get medical information about naltrexone and bupropion and weight loss, contact 1-877-298-8340
Healthcare providers looking for help with their EMR, patient education and other information can contact 1-844-551-2927
Those wanting to learn more about this medication can also visit the Contrave website. It offers information about the drug, knowledge about getting a prescription and paying for it and other things, such as Contrave success stories.
Getting a Contrave Prescription Online
Someone can buy Contrave online with a prescription. To get the prescription, people can take advantage of telemedicine. This means having a doctor’s appointment online using technology such as a Skype or a telephone call. It is very much like an in-person visit regarding how the appointment is conducted. The patient and doctor will discuss the patient’s chief complaint and get information about their medical history. Since this is about weight loss, the doctor may inquire about the methods the patient has tried so far.
On the Contrave website, patients can access telemedicine to get their prescription. It is a relatively simple process that involves the following steps:
Patients will need to select the state they are living in.
They will create an account and make sure to fill out all information accurately and thoroughly.
The next step is the phone or video consult with a doctor.
Once the patient has the prescription, they can activate home delivery for free to receive their Contrave prescription in the mail.
Contrave Home Delivery
Can someone buy Contrave online? This is among the most commonly asked question about this prescribed weight loss medication. Since most prescription weight loss pills do not have home delivery, most patients are unaware of this convenient option with the Contrave weight loss pill. The home delivery program requires that patients have a valid prescription for Contrave. Those already getting this medication from a pharmacy can opt to transfer their prescription to the home delivery service. If the prescription is written, this service is able to fulfill it.
The prescription is filled and sent by a mail order pharmacy. Patients can sign up for this service either online or by calling. Those who get other prescription drugs may also be able to transfer those, allowing them to get their other medications along with Contrave for added convenience.
Contrave and Jenny Craig
Jenny Craig is a weight loss program that allows clients to develop a plan that is unique to their lifestyle and needs. Clients have a consultant that they have access to that will aid them in crafting their plan and executing it. At least once a week, clients and consultants connect to help ensure that everything is going according to plan.
Those using this program get to eat five times a day and enjoy one snack. The Jenny Craig menu includes more than 100 items that clients are able to choose from to personalize their meal plans. There are different Jenny Craig program options people can choose from. These programs may serve to aid with the caloric restriction that is necessary to get the most results when using Contrave to help with weight loss.
Those on the Jenny Craig program may be eligible for Contrave discounts. The discounts available may differ among the different plans that Jenny Craig offers. The discounts may also change with time.
OTC Alternatives to Contrave
There are specific over-the-counter alternatives to the Contrave weight loss pill someone might want to explore. These are all available without a prescription. There are various stores and online retailers that offer these options. The prices and ingredients vary greatly. Possible OTC alternatives to Contrave include:
Garcinia Cambogia Extract
This is a type of natural supplement that comes from a plant. Reliable studies on its effectiveness are not easy to find, especially recent ones. It is often touted as a remedy for weight loss. However, the evidence to support these claims is lacking.
One small study was done that lasted for 60 days. Participants were either given a placebo or garcinia cambogia during this time. In the group getting the actual supplement, those conducting the study state that triglycerides reduced by about one-third compared to the placebo group.
An additional study looked at weight loss and involved a placebo group and a group that got the actual garcinia cambogia supplement, or soy leaf extract. It lasted for 10 weeks. At the end of the study, the conclusion was that the supplements in this study did not promote weight loss.
The supplement comes in various dosages with the recommendation ranging from 250 to 1,000 milligrams per day. Possible side effects may include:
Digestive tract discomfort
Hydroxycut is a type of weight loss supplement that contains natural ingredients. The brand offers an array of supplement options, including capsules and pills, gummies and shakes. The following are said to be the primary ingredients:
Wild olive extract
Wild mint extract
Lady’s mantle extract
Various studies conclude that this supplement is able to increase metabolism by three to 11 percent as a result of the caffeine content. The fat burning is said to be raised by 10 to 29 percent. However, people tend to develop a tolerance to caffeine, so these results will most likely be short-term.
The four herbs present in the formula were tested as part of another study. This study was done on rats and chickens and not humans, however. It showed a metabolic rate boost in the rates and the body weight gain in chickens was reduced by approximately 20 percent. This study also used doses that are much higher than what is seen in the supplement that is sold.
Hydroxycut has not explicitly been studied in humans.
The possible side effects may include sleeping issues, anxiety, diarrhea, jitteriness, and nausea. These are attributed mainly to the caffeine content of the supplement.
Alli is a drug that is available over-the-counter, and it is a version of orlistat. It comes in 60-milligram pills. It is meant to be used with exercise and a reduced calorie diet to promote weight loss. The active ingredient is orlistat, and claims to work by helping to reduce how much dietary fat the body absorbs by inhibiting lipase.
Patients are considered to be successful with this drug when within one year they have lost at least five percent of their body weight. In most cases, it is within the first few months that patients lose weight. This is with exercise and diet in addition to the drug.
The following are potential side effects of this drug:
Menstrual cycle changes
Frequent loose stools
More frequent passing of gas
Meratrim promises to be an all-natural supplement to promote weight loss. It contains two plant extracts at a 3:1 ratio mix. These include garcinia mangostana and sphaeranthus indicus. Some research shows that sphaeranthus indicus may provide multiple antioxidants (rat study).
Some research shows that garcinia mangostana may:
Possess antibacterial properties
Act as an antioxidant
There was a study done on the actual supplement and not just its ingredients. It was done on humans and double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled. It included 77 women and 23 men, all of which were overweight. The placebo group took a dummy pill at the same times that the Meratrim group received 400 milligrams of this supplement. Once at dinner and once at breakfast 30 minutes before eating.
All participants walked 30 minutes per day, and they consumed 2,000 calories daily. Compared to the placebo group, the Meratrim group lost more weight after the eight-week study. The placebo group lost approximately 3.3 pounds while the Meratrim group lost about 11 pounds. Additional improvements were observed in the Meratrim groups triglycerides, total cholesterol, and fasting glucose.
Now, it is important to note that the company that sells and produces Meratrim sponsored this study.
Side effects might include nausea and headache.
Lipozene promises to be a natural supplement that helps people to feel satiated. The website says that those using the supplement do not have to follow strict diets to get results. It is taken up to three times daily, and those using it should take the doses 30 minutes before eating.
The only active ingredient in this supplement is glucomannan. It is found in konjac plant roots. It is a type of fiber that can absorb water very effectively. It is commonly used in specific food products as an emulsifying or thickening agent.
From a purely observational standpoint, when people consume more fiber, they tend to weigh less. Since glucomannan is a type of fiber, it is thought that it may help to promote weight loss in the following ways:
Helping to keep someone full after it expands in the stomach after it absorbs water. This may result in satiation due to food leaving the stomach at a slower pace.
People might absorb fewer calories due to it potentially reducing nutrient absorption.
It may help to promote healthy levels of good gut bacteria. This may potentially reduce the risk of weight gain.
A study was conducted that included 176 participants. In this study, the participants ate a 1,200-calorie diet per day and were either given a placebo or a supplement that contained glucomannan. Over five weeks, those who took the glucomannan lost an average of 3.7 pounds more weight compared to the placebo group.
Taking this supplement may significantly increase how much fiber someone is getting in their diet. As a result, digestive issues is possible until the body adjusts.
Super HD Weight Loss
Super HD Weight Loss is a supplement that promises it:
Is a potent nootropic
Promotes fat loss
Enhances appetite control
Boosts energy significantly
Increases fat metabolism
There are no reputable studies that have been done on this supplement. Some of the individual ingredients, however, have been studies. For example, the caffeine and green tea leaf extracts may increase metabolism, allowing those using the supplement to burn more calories. Dandelion extract may improve gut health due to its prebiotic activity that may assist six different probiotics. It may also enhance fat loss and improve digestion.
With rhodiola, it may help to promote energy and reduce fatigue. One study looked at 161 cadets. The conclusion was that a single dose of this ingredient helped to alleviate their fatigue. It may also aid in suppressing the appetite.
Yohimbe did a study on rodents that showed that it might provide three different mechanisms to aid the body in reducing body fat. These mechanisms include:
Improving metabolic function
There does not appear to be any reputable studies that have replicated these effects in human test subjects.
This supplement contains the following ingredients:
Due to the caffeine and other stimulating ingredients in this supplement, side effects may include:
Where Can You Purchase Contrave With a Prescription?
Those wanting to use Contrave for weight loss will need a prescription. Once they have this, they can go to some pharmacies to have the prescription filled. Some everyday pharmacy choices include:
Drug Mart Pharmacy
Giant Eagle Pharmacy
Rite Aid Pharmacy
The pharmacies inside hospitals can also usually accommodate a Contrave prescription. Patients who are getting the prescription for the first time can ask their doctor for pharmacy recommendations to help ensure that the pharmacy they go to will have the medication and be able to fill it.
The Contrave Doctor Discussion Guide
To help patients expedite the conversation about Contrave for weight loss, they can download the doctor discussion guide. Patients will be asked to provide the following information:
Weight and height
Weight loss struggles
This information is necessary since the guide is personalized. Once the guide has been created, patients can choose to print it out or email it to themselves. With this guide, patients and their doctors essentially have a starting point in talking about RX diet pills, especially Contrave. It lets both parties know how much weight the patient may need to use so that they can create a series of reasonable goals. It also makes it possible to discuss bupropion and weight loss and the caloric restrictions and exercise that should be done to aid with the effects that are produced by this FDA approved weight loss medication.
The “Fun Cravings Quiz”
The Contrave website offers a Fun Cravings Quiz people can take to learn more about their cravings to help find ways to make them easier to control. The quiz is used to evaluate the following:
When and how often someone has cravings?
How often someone gives into their cravings?
How hungry someone is during the day?
How someone feels after eating?
How nutritious a person’s snack choices are when snacking?
Whether they prefer savory or sweet treats?
If they often eat midnight snacks?
If they tend to eat when they are bored?
This information makes it possible to determine if Contrave and the associated lifestyle changes might benefit the person taking the quiz.
Contrave: FDA, Lawsuits, and Bankruptcy
On May 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accused Contrave of downplaying the possible side effects of the drug in a television commercial.
In August 2018, a lawsuit was filed against the parent company, Orexigen, for securities fraud because the company withheld failed clinical trial details.
Prior to the lawsuit, in March 2018, Orexigen filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
What Users Are Saying
“I took Contrave for four weeks. Once I progressed to two pills a day, it began to give me headaches and the worst dizzy spells ever.”
“I have been on Contrave 7 days and I love it! I was so afraid to take this medication after reading the review stating all the horrible side effects people were having.”
“I was only on Contrave for a week so I can’t speak on how well it worked. The reason I was only on it for a week was due to the side effects.”
The Bottom Line on Contrave
So here we are again. Staring into the face of a potential weight-loss solution and trying to figure out whether it’s even worth the money, time, or side effects. The ingredients are well-researched and shown to be effective – although not by much. A few issues we couldn’t escape include:
The list of warning and possible interactions are just frightening
It can become very expensive
Possible side effects are a bit too much for me
Whether you’re taking a prescription weight-loss pill or not, you still need a strong support system to help you along your weight-loss path.
Among the best systems this year is Noom. We thought it was just another app at first, but when we found human coaching, custom meal plans, food tracking, exercise tracking and more, we knew this one was different.
And, for a limited time Dietspotlight readers can get a free trial of Noom.
Some common reported side effects of Contrave include dizziness, nausea, dry mouth, insomnia, and headaches.
What are the ingredients in Contrave?
Contrave ingredients are bupropion HCL and naltrexone HCL.
Is Contrave approved by the FDA?
Yes, Contrave has been clinically proven and FDA approved.
How much does Contrave cost?
Contrave costs around $300 a month. The price could change after insurance.
How is Contrave taken?
You take one Contrave capsule in the morning for the first week. Then, one in the morning and one in the evening the second week. The third week you take two in the morning and one in the evening. Finally, by week four, you take two in the morning and two in the evening.