Patrick O’Neil, Ph.D. leads the Weight Management Center of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charlston, is also a professor in the College of Medicine at MUSC and is a former president of The Obesity Society. O’Neil also studies and leads clinical trials on medications and treatments designed to help people manage their weight.

With more weight loss medications poised to come on the market, Patrick O’Neil, Ph.D., the director of the Medical University of South Carolina’s Weight Management Center talks about:

  • The remarkable percentage of pounds dropped by people using new weight loss drugs.
  • Other drugs already on the market, that have made a splash.
  • How their popularity is causing medication supply shortages for people with Type 2 diabetes.
  • Who qualifies for the prescription weight loss medications.
  • Their side effects and costs.


Weight loss drugs already on the market

Effects on diabetes drug supply

Who qualifies for the prescription weight loss medications?

Side effects and costs


The Effect of Obesity Medications on the Healthcare System

Patrick O’Neil, PhD, has been working in the delivery and development of obesity treatments since the 1970’s, and in that time he’s seen the approach to this chronic, pervasive condition go from that of a neglected, scorned behavioral difficulty to a major global health problem and the subject of accelerating medical research. It’s not been a smooth or easy course, and he will highlight some of the many stumbles along the way, especially the checkered history of weight loss drugs.

But now that effective obesity medications are here, with many more prospects on the horizon, what are the impacts on the healthcare system? How effective are these drugs, and who should use them? What are the side effects? How affordable are they? Can the healthcare system handle the potential demand for treatments possibly needed by a third or more of the population? And are drugs alone enough?


Patrick Mahlen O’Neil, Ph.D.
Medical University of South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina

Patrick M. O’Neil is Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charlston, where he is Director of the Weight Management Center.  He received his B.S. in Economics from Louisiana State University and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Georgia.  Dr. O’Neil has been professionally involved in obesity since 1977 in numerous clinical, teaching, research and public education roles.  He directs the long-standing multi-disciplinary MUSC Weight Management Center.  His teaching activities include supervision of psychology interns, lectures to medical students and other trainee groups, and invited continuing medical education lectures.  He is and has been principal investigator for a large number of externally funded clinical trials of weight-loss agents and interventions.  He is the author of more than 100 professional publications, chapters, and presentations, primarily concerning obesity and its management.

Dr. O’Neil is a longstanding active member of The Obesity Society, having served as Councilor, Vice-President and President. He is a present or former member of the Editorial Boards of the journals Eating Behaviors, Korean Journal of Obesity, Obesity (formerlyObesity Research), and International Journal of Obesity, and formerly served as associate editor of the journal Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases. He is a former member of the Committee on Military Nutrition Research of the Institute of Medicine.

Closer to home, Dr. O’Neil served as a member of the Scientific Council of the South Carolina Nutrition Research Consortium throughout its existence. He is a former member and Chair of the South Carolina Board of Examiners in Psychology, and Past President of the South Carolina Academy of Professional Psychologists. For over 9 years, he wrote the popular “Weighing the Choices” column, which appeared every week in Charleston’s Sunday edition of The Post and Courier. In 2015 he was elected Mayor of the Town of Sullivan’s Island, having served as a member of Town Council since 2001 and prior to that, member and Chair of the Town’s Planning Commission.