Over the past few decades, scientists have invented a slew of new drugs that have significantly changed healthcare—and the lives of those who suffer from conditions ranging from cancer to erectile dysfunction.
More recently, dozens of pills, injections, and other treatments have earned the green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some of these may end up as game changers.
But it’s important to recognize that as promising as they may be, no drug is a miracle pill. And despite rigorous clinical trial testing before drugs are approved, the verdict on their safety often doesn’t emerge until a few years later, after hundreds of thousands of people have taken them, says Albert Wertheimer, Ph.D., professor of pharmacy administration at Temple University.
These 10 recently approved remedies just might change your life. But before you start a new prescription, you should obviously talk to your doctor and pharmacist about potential perks and downsides. (For more must-know health tips—and 2,000+ awesome life hacks to help you become stronger, happier, and sexier—check out The Better Man Project, the brand-new book from the editor in chief of Men’s Health.)
Bydureon and Trulicity for Type 2 Diabetes
About half of the U.S. population is now either diabetic or pre-diabetic, according to a new study published in JAMA. As the diabetes epidemic rages on, so does the hunt for new treatments. Enter Bydureon and Trulicity.
Like other diabetes drugs, these meds help stabilize your blood sugar levels. But by mimicking the satiety hormones your body produces after eating, the new drugs also suppress your appetite. This helps you lose weight, which steadies your sugar levels even further, says Jason Ng, M.D, an endocrinologist at the University of Pittsburgh.
Better control helps prevent the nasty complications of diabetes, including damage to your nerves, blood vessels, and kidneys.
Words of warning: Though these formulas require weekly rather than daily injections, you still have to be comfortable with giving yourself shots under your skin, Dr. Ng says. Rarer side effects can include thyroid cancer and pancreatic inflammation.
Viberzi and Xifaxan for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) with Diarrhea
Viberzi binds to special receptors in your intestines to calm the contractions in your bowels that make give you diarrhea. Xifaxan, an antibiotic, alters your gut bacterial content for a similar result. Each has about a 50-percent success rate—decent odds for IBS, a difficult-to-treat condition, says Patrick Finnegan, Pharm.D., associate professor of pharmacy practice at St. Louis College of Pharmacy.
Words of warning: Viberzi can sometimes cause constipation, while Xifaxan can lead to nausea and stomach pain.
Belsomra for Insomnia
Other sleep drugs ramp up drowse-inducing brain chemicals to help you nod off to sleep. But Belsomra is the only one that shuts down orexins, the neurotransmitters that keep you awake. This can help you fall asleep and stay snoozing, without some of the scary side effects linked to other insomnia drugs—like sleep driving.
Words of warning: Because Belsomra dissolves in fat, its effects are more potent in heavy guys, Finnegan says. Plus, you may feel sleepy and have trouble driving during the day, says Jeremiah Momper, Pharm.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of clinical pharmacy at the University of California, San Diego.
Contrave for Weight Loss
In one clinical trial published in the journal Obesity, half of patients who combined Contrave with diet changes and exercise lost 5 percent of their body weight in a year, compared with just 17 percent of those who made the same lifestyle changes while taking a placebo.
Words of warning: Like any weight-loss drug, Contrave isn’t a magical pill to help you shed those last 5 pounds, says Charlie Seltzer, M.D., an obesity medicine specialist in Philadelphia. Your doctor will probably recommend it only if you have a BMI of 30 or higher and a related condition, like diabetes or high blood pressure.(For the simplest, most effective way to shrink your gut for good, try our Lose Your Spare Tire! program. You can drop 5, 10, or even 50 pounds!)
Jubila for Toenail Fungus
Words of warning: Relief doesn’t come cheap. You might need as many as eight bottles—at about $450 a pop—to clear up your infection. And not all insurance companies cover it, Finnegan notes.
Vyvanse for Binge-Eating Disorder
Everyone overindulges once in a while, but people with true binge eating disorder regularly and uncontrollably eat past the point of comfort, Dr. Seltzer says. This drug isn’t actually new—it was already used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)—but earlier this year, the FDA expanded its use to make it the first approved treatment for this ailment.
That means similar brain pathways that govern your ability to resist impulsive behavior may underlie the two conditions.
Words of warning: Because it’s a stimulant, Vyvanse can cause insomnia and rapid heart rate. It also poses a risk of addiction or abuse, so make sure you use it under close supervision of your doctor.
Aveed for Low Testosterone
Chronically low Testosterone levels can zap your sex drive and energy, weaken your muscles, and darken your mood. This recently approved form of testosterone can stabilize your levels and bring relief in a long-acting injection delivered once every 10 weeks, Finnegan says.
That may be an easier option for you than some topical creams, which must be applied daily and pose a risk of rubbing off on children or pets.
Words of warning: Make sure your T levels actually come up low in lab tests before starting. Like other forms of testosterone replacement, you shouldn’t use Aveed if you’re experience a normal-age related decline of the hormone. The risks of taking the drug—including greater chances of prostate cancer and heart attack—outweigh the benefits in those cases, Finnegan says. And this particular formula can cause a severe breathing-related allergic reaction during or soon after the shot.
Xtoro for Swimmer’s Ear
Once, a case of this aquatic-related bacterial infection would’ve gotten you a prescription for oral antibiotics—and warnings of liver damage, low blood sugar, and even heart problems linked to the drug. But because you apply these drops of antimicrobial fluoroquinolone just where they’re needed, they don’t cause system-wide side effects.
Xtoro cured 70 percent of cases in a recent clinical trial conducted by manufacturer Alcon, according to the FDA.
Words of warning: Applying antibiotics directly to your ear dramatically reduces side effects, Werthemier says. But people in the clinical trials still reported itching and nausea.
Saxenda for Weight Loss
Saxenda stands apart from most weight-loss treatments in that it doesn’t work by revving up your metabolism. Instead, like many recently approved diabetes medications, it mimics the action of a compound in your body that suppresses appetite and slows glucose absorption to help you cut bulk. In fact, this same drug is sold in a different dose under the brand name Victoza to treat diabetes.
Words of warning: Again, slightly chubby guys who just want to lose some weight need not apply, Finnegan says. And Saxenda may increase your risk of rare but serious thyroid tumors, so steer clear if you have a family history of these conditions.
Afrezza for Diabetes
Have to take insulin for diabetes, but hate needles? Swap your fast-acting injectable insulin for this inhaled version before meals. The small, pocket-sized inhaler is easy to carry and use on the go, Finnegan says.
Words of warning: Not surprisingly, inhaled insulin can have respiratory side effects like coughing or tightening in your airways, especially if you smoke or have lung disease.


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