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FDA Approves Weight Loss Pill Belviq

Ryan | July 2nd, 2012

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The FDA has approved the weight loss pill Belviq, the first anti-obesity drug to pass muster with the health agency in more than ten years.

Clinical studies have linked Belviq with only limited weight loss. However, the FDA determined that the heart injury dangers at the center of past weight loss pill controversies were not associated with Belviq, which is manufactured by Arena Pharmaceuticals.

Belviq, also known as lorcaserin, is an appetite suppressant. It works by inhibiting receptors in the brain that control feelings of hunger and fullness. By taking Belviq, patients are meant to feel sated and full without having to eat as much.

Weight loss pill deemed safe by FDA

An FDA advisory panel voted against approval of Belviq in 2010, citing concerns about the drug’s safety. Specifically, the FDA was worried about the emergence of tumors in some animals tested with Belviq. But after the drug maker provided additional research data, the FDA concluded that the risk of tumors in humans was negligible.

With some reports suggesting that 35% of Americans are currently obese, the medical community has been pressing for new weight loss drugs to help fight the epidemic of overweight adults. Belviq marks a step forward in this regard, and the drug has been shown to instigate an average loss of  3 to 3.7 percent of their body weight over a year.

By comparison, another weight loss pill currently awaiting approval by the FDA. Qnexa, promises an average weight loss of 11% of body weight per year, with 83% of users without diabetes losing at least 5 pounds in that time, as compared to 47% with Belviq.

Study subjects taking Belviq have reported side effects such as migraine headaches, depression, and memory problems.

Belviq can aid management of obesity

Belviq is a prescription-only drug, so patients must first consult with their doctors to determine if taking the new weight loss pill is the right choice for them.

For patients with type 2 diabetes, even a small amount of weight loss can significantly lower blood sugar levels. At the same time, even minimal weight loss can have a major effect on the fragile balance of glucose levels and diabetes medications, including insulin injections.

Diabetes patients are urged to seek the supervision of a doctor before embarking on any diet or exercise plan—including taking a weight loss pill such as Belviq.  Doctors at The Center for Medical Weight Loss have treated many diabetes patients with individualized diet and exercise plans. In many cases, diabetes patients have reversed their condition completely, to the point where they no longer have to take their medication.

Dr. Michael Kaplan, founder and chief medical officer of The Center for Medical Weight Loss (CMWL), is optimistic about the possibilities in the wake of the FDA’s approval of Belviq.

“We physicians at CMWL look forward to having another tool in our tool box to help our obese patients lose and keep off weight,” says Dr. Kaplan. “Belviq/Lorcaserin should be a great addition to our treatment arsenal. “

Though Belviq may prove to be a valuable tool for the management of obesity, for many people—especially diabetics—a pill alone will likely not be the best or easiest way to lose weight. The doctors at The Center for Medical Weight Loss can guide you step by step through a personalized, healthy diet plan. Whether or not patients’ programs include an appetite suppressant such as Belviq, the weight they lose is likely to stay off: Published studies have shown that nearly 100% of patients on the CMWL plan maintain weight loss after a year’s time.

To see if there’s a center near you, plug your zip code into the Find a Center box above. Make sure to inquire about special introductory offers for first-time visitors available at some locations.