It’s blue. It’s swell. It’s the latest pill to receive big (FDA) Daddy’s chop of approval to save mankind from flabby bulges and health complications from the obesity epidemic.
Belviq (or lorcaserin), developed by Arena Pharmaceuticals, has stirred mass excitement throughout the world stage as it is the first prescription diet drug sanctioned by FDA in the past 13 years!
Here’s the skinny on the NEW little blue pill:
#1 HOW DOES BELVIQ WORK?
This new little darlin’ of the weight-loss world plays mind games, helping to control your appetite. Specifically, it activates your brain receptors for serotonin (the neurotransmitter that boost feelings of satiety and fullness).
But as opposed to anti-depressant drugs (serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) that keep our brains bathed in these “happy chemicals” and feeling high, Belviq is supposed to target on those receptor sweet spots that affect appetite.
So ladies, you might still need a dark chocolate truffle or two once in awhile to keep your spirits up (and wrinkles at bay!).
#2 HOW DOES ITS RESULTS MEASURE UP?
According to data from clinical trials, nearly half of non-diabetic dieters given Belviq lost at least 5 percent off their starting weight (or an average of 12 lbs) over a year, as compared with 23 percent of those taking a placebo. Similar weight loss results were also observed in diabetic subjects, and those on the medication showed improvements in their blood sugar control as well. For best results, dieters are advised to use the medication together with a healthy diet and exercise program.
The approved label for Belviq also recommends that people discontinue it if they fail to lose 5 percent of their body weight after 12 weeks of treatment, as these cases are unlikely to see further significant weight loss by staying with the pill.
#3 WHAT ABOUT THE POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS?
This is the most tricky part for diet pills, as manipulating the body’s weight-controlling pathways can have long-term consequences on the cardiovascular and metabolic systems. So drug developers have a high bar to clear to prove that their products are safe.
Especially after the highly successful weight management drug, Reductil (or Meridia), was taken off the shelves in 2010 due to associations with heart attack and stroke, casting public concerns and leaving a void in the doctors’ fat-fighting arsenal.
While there are drugs available to aid us in achieving our short-term weight goals, till now the only FDA-approved prescription drug to keep the pounds off safely on the long-term is Xenical. But this “fat absorption blocker” puts dieters off due to unpleasant digestive side effects (think bloatedness and embarrassing oily diarrhea) and modest weight loss results.
The most common (and minor sounding) side effects of Belviq in non-diabetic patients are dizziness, headache, fatigue, nausea, dry mouth and constipation. In patients with diabetes, side effects include low blood sugar, back pain, headache, cough and fatigue.
There was some initial worry that Belviq could cause heart-valve damage in people, like a similar serotonin-based weight loss drug (fenfluramine) which was removed from the market in 1997. But study results showed that this is not an issue for Belviq at the approved low dose of 10 mg twice a day. However, Arena is required by the FDA to conduct 6 studies once the drug reaches the market to confirm its long-term cardiovascular (heart attack and stroke) safety.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Belviq is the first of two of a new line of game-changing drugs the FDA is expected to approve for weight management: the other being Qnexa from Vivus. That decision is expected later this year.
Meanwhile, try this totally safe natural remedy that I use to work on my constantly food-seeking brain (or at least to provide a tiny dose of laughter despite my depressing weight). Now repeat after me:
“Do not reward yourself with food. You are not a dog.”
– By Gene Yeo