It promises to help patients lose five-to-ten percent of their weight (according to clinical trials) when combined with diet and exercise. But is this what America’s overweight patients really need?
Lorcaserin, the drug name for the prescription diet pill Belviq, was approved by the FDA today, making it the first weight loss drug to receive such approval since Orlistat (Alli) in 1999. This comes just weeks ahead of what is anticipated to be an FDA approval for Qnexa, another weight loss drug.
“In two clinical trials, Lorcaserin helped patients lose 5.8 percent of their body weight after a year. That’s about ten pounds for a 180 pound person. Big deal,” said our resident dietitian Mary Hartley, RD.
The drug works by controlling the appetite by making the brain think its fuller sooner. It’s fared well in clinical trials, and will have to undergo six more studies after its in market to ensure long-term cardiovascular health and to determine Belviq’s risk factor for heart attack and stroke. This makes the in-market patients unassuming guinea pigs, according to Hartley, and that isn’t right.
“The advisory committee decided that the benefits of the drug outweighed the risks heart value problems, but the drug manufacturer was made to conduct post-marketing studies to assess long-term cardiac events such as heart attack and stroke. That makes the patient a guinea pig. No thanks.”
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