1 What Is Contrave?

Brand: Contrave

Generic: Naltrexone and bupropion

Naltrexone and bupropion is a combination medication that has been prescribed for weight management in overweight and obese patients. Bupropion is an antidepressant medication also known to decrease appetite in individuals, whereas naltrexone is usually given to block the effects of narcotics or alcohol in people with addiction problems. Naltrexone is part of the class of drugs known as opiate antagonists. It is also known to restrain hunger and cravings for food. Contrave can also be termed as an anorexiant, which is very helpful in weight management. Both these medicines work together on two separate parts of the brain to reduce appetite and cravings.

It should be used in conjunction with diet and exercise.

This drug cannot be purchased without a doctor’s prescription. It is sold in extended-release tablets.

Contrave is an FDA-approved drug available only with a prescription. It is a weight loss medication that is usually beneficial in adults who are overweight or struggling with obesity to lose weight and keep it off. Contrave is known to work on two important areas of the brain, the hunger center and the reward system, by reducing hunger and helping to control food cravings. Losing weight and maintaining an ideal body weight can reduce many medical conditions that are associated with obesity, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and shorter life span.

One should note that this medicine is not to be used for the treatment of depression or any other psychiatric condition in an individual. Also, most of the drugs that belong to the opiates class should not be taken for more than seven to ten days before one starts naltrexone. Some of the drugs in the opiate class should not be used for ten to fourteen days before starting naltrexone. Your doctor is the best guide for when to start the medication and the required dosages, so keep your doctor informed with regards to any drug intake.

2 What to Know Before Using

Before you decide to use any kind of medication, make sure you have a detailed discussion with your physician about the benefits and risks involved.

You need to consider a number of factors, including age, allergies, and drug interactions. You also need to consider the effects of the medication on pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Pregnant women should not use this medication, since it can cause fetal abnormalities. However, when it comes to breastfeeding, there is not enough evidence to suggest that naltrexone and bupropion have a harmful effect on the infant.

Inform your doctor or healthcare team about any allergies you have to food, dyes, animals, or preservatives. If you have allergies to the medication’s components, inform your doctor about this as well.

Medications can have different effects on the young and old. However, in the case of naltrexone and bupropion, appropriate research about its effect on the pediatric population has not yet been conducted.

Also, there haven’t been enough appropriate studies on the geriatric-specific problems this particular medication might have. However, it is postulated that, because elderly patients may have decreased or compromised renal function due to old age, dose adjustment should be considered and the drug must be used with caution.

Inform your physician and healthcare team about your medication regimen since certain drugs can interact with naltrexone and bupropion.

Lastly, talk to your physician if you have other medical conditions that may affect the efficiency of this medication.

3 Proper Usage

As with any medication, always follow your doctor’s instructions.

  • Do not change your dosage or the number of times you take it in a day, as this may cause unwanted side effects.
  • Clearly read the medication guide available from the pharmacist along with the medication before starting naltrexone or bupropion.
  • This medication should be taken orally along with a low-fat meal, as directed by the doctor, twice a day.
  • Take this medication with food, but not high-fat meals. Also, before you start a new exercise program, consult your physician first. If you forget to take a dose, skip it and move on to the next scheduled dose.
  • Make sure you store this drug in a sealed container at room temperature.
  • Keep it away from heat, direct light, and moisture.
  • Store it in a place inaccessible to children.
  • Do not take expired medications.
  • If one has sleeping issues after taking this medication, do not take an evening dose of the medicine too close to bedtime.
  • The dosage provided by the doctor completely depends on the patient’s current medical condition, the response to treatment, and other medications being taken simultaneously.
  • The doctor can slowly increase the dosage to lower the risk of seizures and also to avoid or limit side effects, such as withdrawal symptoms from opiates, lack of sleep, and high blood pressure.
  • The tablet should be swallowed whole; it should not be crushed or chewed, since it can release the drug all at once, thereby increasing the potential risk of other side effects, such as seizures.
  • One should not alter the dosage without consulting the doctor. Do not stop taking it or take it more often than prescribed.
  • Inform the doctor if you still have not lost weight after sixteen weeks of using the medication.

4 Precautions to Take

While taking this medication, there are several precautions you should observe. Your doctor will follow up on your progress, and it is important to disclose any unusual signs or symptoms.

  • Avoid getting pregnant when you’re on naltrexone and bupropion; use appropriate birth control.
  • Use of naltrexone and bupropion in combination with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) can have serious adverse effects. Do not use this combination drug with isocarboxazid, phenelzine l®, selegiline, or tranylcypromine. Only being taking a naltrexone and bupropion combination after two weeks of stopping any MAOI drugs and vice versa.
  • Do not use narcotics or drink alcohol while on a naltrexone and bupropion combination.
  • Talk to your physician first if you want to stop taking this medication; do not abruptly stop.
  • A naltrexone and bupropion combination can increase your blood pressure, so make sure to check it on a regular basis. Also, monitor your blood sugar, since this medication can increase the risk of hypoglycemia.
  • Inform your doctor immediately if you have any type of allergic reaction.
  • Watch out for signs of liver problems. These include pale stools, dark urine, loss of appetite, nausea, pain or tenderness in the upper stomach, unusual tiredness or weakness, and yellow skin or eyes.
  • Don’t take any type of over-the-counter drug without asking your physician first.
  • Some people have thoughts of suicide when first taking bupropion. One should stay alert for changes in mood or any other symptoms and report them to the doctor.
  • Before starting the medication, inform the doctor about any medical history concerned with high blood pressure, mood swings or mental disorders, disease related to heart, bipolar disorder, suicidal tendencies, a heart attack, diabetes, usage of any type of drug belonging to the opioid class, glaucoma, seizures or any other condition which would increase the risk of seizures such as brain tumors, head injury, or eating disorder such anorexia or bulimia.
  • This medication can make you feel dizzy, so you should not drive after taking it. Do not operate any machinery, and stay away from any activity which would require mental alertness or clear vision. Avoid alcohol and smoking; alcohol is known to increase the risk of seizures and dizziness.
  • Once you stop this medication, you may be more sensitive to opioids, which would increase the risk of any life-threatening side effects from narcotics, including loss of consciousness or slowed breathing.
  • Before undergoing any kind of surgery, inform the doctor about all medications you have been taking to avoid risk of side effects.
  • Elderly citizens may be more sensitive to the various side effects of this medicine, especially dizziness, which in turn would increase the risk of falling and injury.

5 Potential Side Effects

With any medication, adverse effects are expected. The severity, however, can vary.

Common effects include dizziness, headache, irritability, loss of interest or pleasure, fear or nervousness, discouragement, pounding in the ears, trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, lethargy, and feeling sad. Less common effects include bladder pain, lower back or side pain, trembling or shaking of the hands or feet, chest pain or discomfort, vomiting, nausea, and sweating.

Many people who consume this medicine do not complain of any major side effects. One should remember that the doctor has prescribed this medicine because the benefits have been judged to be greater than the risk of any side effects.

Inform the doctor right away if you encounter any serious side effects such as agitation, loss of memory, confusion, mood swings, tremor, ringing sound in the ears, headache which gets severe over time, pain in the chest, or irregularity in heartbeat.

Seek immediate help if side effects worsen, such as pain in the eye, swelling or redness, blurry vision, or widened pupils.

If you have been taking other opioid medications on a regular basis, you may encounter withdrawal symptoms within a few minutes of consuming naltrexone. Hence, do not hesitate to rush to the doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms: fast breathing, continuous yawns, profuse sweating, muscle twitching, changes in mood, watery eyes.

Seizures are quite rare after consuming this medicine, however, if one has a seizure, get medical help right away. If the seizure is caused due to the intake of bupropion, stop taking this drug.

Intake of naltrexone is rarely known to cause any serious side effects, such as liver problems. However, larger doses increase the risk of side effects, so be sure to discuss the pros and cons of the medication before starting it. If one experiences symptoms such as persistent vomiting or nausea, weight loss, loss of appetite, liver damage, abdominal pain, yellowing eyes and skin, or dark-colored urine, inform the doctor immediately.

It is rare for someone to experience a serious allergic reaction from the medication. However, keep an eye out for any symptoms of an allergic reaction, including skin rash, itching, or swelling, especially in the throat, tongue, or face. Painful sores in the mouth or around the eyes, severe dizziness, and having trouble breathing are more severe symptoms.

Call your doctor immediately if you experience changes in behavior or suicidal thoughts.

Watch out for signs of overdose and seek medical attention right away if you notice any, including fainting, loss of consciousness, sweating, severe sleepiness, confusion, blue lips, fingernails, or skin, decreased alertness, muscle cramps, and confusion.

Common effects that don’t require medical attention include diarrhea and constipation.

Contact your physician if you need advice or clarification regarding the side effects of naltrexone and bupropion.