Prescription Weight Loss Medicines: 5 Important Things to Know

At ZOOM Pharmacy, many of our customers have their weight loss medicines like Duromine (phentermine) or Xenical (orlistat) delivered direct to their door via our online medicine delivery service.

Here are some common questions many New Zealanders have asked our Lead Pharmacist Din Redzepagic and the team about these medications.

1.       Why would my doctor prescribe weight loss medicines?

Prior to prescribing weight loss medicines, your doctor will ask you to make changes to your lifestyle – including your diet, physical activity, and sleep routines.

Your doctor might prescribe a weight loss medicine for you if:

  • After 6 months, diet and other lifestyle changes have not made a significant positive difference to your weight, and
  • Your BMI (Body Mass Index) is higher than 30 kg/m2. You can work out your BMI using the Heart Foundation calculator

If you have other significant weight-related health issues, such as diabetes or sleep apnoea, your doctor might prescribe weight loss medication if your BMI is 27 – 30 kg/m2.

2.       Do weight loss pills work?

Duromine (phentermine) and Xenical (orlistat) are the only 2 prescription medicine pills (capsules) approved for use in New Zealand. Saxenda (liraglutide) is a self-injected medication which is also now available in NZ.

  • Phentermine works by suppressing appetite, so you do not feel as hungry
  • Orlistat works by preventing the absorption of fat from food
  • Liraglutide works by suppressing appetite and making you feel full and less hungry

These prescription medicines can help people lose a modest amount of weight.

However, weight loss medicines should always be used together with a medically controlled diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes. They will not be effective when used on their own.

Used this way, the medication will usually help people lose more weight than they would otherwise lose with lifestyle changes alone.

Even a modest weight loss (5% – 10% of your body weight) can have important health benefits such as better blood pressure, improved heart health and cholesterol levels, decreased risk for diabetes, a better night’s sleep, decreased risk for many types of cancer, and more energy – just to name a few.

Your doctor will monitor the effectiveness of your medication closely. If it is not helping you lose at least 5% of your body weight, then your doctor is likely to stop this treatment.

3.       Are weight loss pills safe?

Like all medicines, prescription weight loss pills can have unwanted side effects. These can range from mild to (in rare cases) severe.

If you have been prescribed a weight loss medication, your doctor has weighed up the benefits you might gain against the risks of side-effects.

Your doctor will also monitor you closely for side effects. You should always let your doctor or pharmacist know if you are concerned, feeling unwell, or are suffering worrying side effects.

You can find detailed information on the safe use and possible side-effects of each medication here:

And of course, as with all prescription medicines, they should only be taken as directed by your doctor or pharmacist.

4.       Is the cost of prescription weight loss medicine subsidised?

Weight loss medications are not subsidised by the New Zealand government. This means you will need to pay the full cost of the medication. This can range from around $72 – $500 a month.

5.       What should I do if I have more questions about weight loss medicines?

  • Do ask your doctor if you have any concerns or questions
  • You can also talk to one of our friendly ZOOM pharmacists on 0508 966 622. Our highly trained pharmacists are available Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm to answer your questions. All conversations are confidential and will be specific to you. You don’t have to be an existing ZOOM customer to call us.  

Weight loss medicines delivered to your door with Zoom Pharmacy

Get your weight loss medicine through ZOOM Pharmacy and have it delivered to your door in discreet packaging. If you are on an unfunded medicine, visit the ZOOM Pharmacy SHOP to check out our prices, for example Duromine (phentermine).  

DUROMINE – a prescription from your healthcare practitioner is required before we ship

SLIMFIT – no prescription required!

For the treatment of excess weight & general weight management

SlimFit Fat Binder, Berry Flavour, 90 sachets. Helps you lose up to 3 times more weight than dieting alone. Reduces calories absorbed from fatty dietary foods. On the go format. Suitable for vegetarians.

SlimFit Calorie Reducer, Fruity Flavour, 20 sachets. Clinically proven to help you lose more weight than dieting alone, helping you lose weight. Works by reducing the calorie intake from carbohydrates, sugars and fats. Helps stabilise blood glucose and insulin levels which helps in reducing food cravings and blood glucose management.

SlimFit Appetite Reducer, 60 capsules. Clinically proven to promote significant weight loss through reduced food intake. Fills up to 43% of the stomach and promotes a pleasant feeling of fullness. Suitable for those who have a big appetite and struggle with portion control. An effective aid when used in conjunction with a low-calorie diet (or those on meal replacements) to assist with hunger pangs.

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Duromine FAQ’s

  • When do you start losing weight on Duromine?

Although results may vary amongst individuals, results are typically visible 1 month after starting treatment. Typically, there will be at least a 5% reduction in body weight after a 12-week course. 

  • What does Duromine do to the body?

Duromine (Phentermine) is an indirect-acting sympathomimetic amine that works on the central nervous system to suppress appetite.  Duromine has also been reported to inhibit neuropeptide Y which is the primary signally pathway for the induction of hunger and this can help weight loss by decreasing your hunger and making you feel full for longer.

  • How much weight can you lose from Duromine?

A 5-10% reduction is expected in most individuals after a 12-week course of Duromine. In some cases, there are case reports of a 15% reduction in body weight. For someone that is 150kg, that is equivalent to a weight loss of 22.5kg! 

  • How overweight do you have to be to get Duromine?

At your prescriber’s discretion, Duromine is indicated for anyone that has a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30kg/m² or greater who has not achieved an adequate clinical response to an appropriate weight-reducing regimen alone. In some situations and at your prescriber’s discretion, Duromine may be considered for people below the BMI 30kg/m².  Duromine is a prescription-only medicine, if you think Duromine is the right product for you, please see your healthcare prescriber first. 

  • Is Duromine good for weight loss?

There are 4 main weight loss medicines available in New Zealand. Duromine is the market-leading product prescribed in New Zealand for the treatment of weight loss and has been in widespread use for 40 years. 


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