UPDATE: 6/27/12: Lorcaserin, which will be sold as Belviq, received FDA approval today, making it the first diet pill the government agency has approved in more than a decade. Learn more about Lorcaserin.
In the midst of controversy over the weight loss drug Qnexa, a new drug has entered the arena of consideration after it was approved by an FDA advisory panel on Thursday.
The new drug, Lorcaserin, is made by Arena Pharmaceuticals and claims to control appetite through receptors in the brain. Experts tout its clinical trial results showed nearly half of participants lost up to five percent of their body weight.
The FDA committee approved the drug by a favorable vote of 18-4, and the FDA is slated to decide on its official approval by June 27.
Much like Qnexa, Lorcaserin was rejected in 2010 by the FDA advisory committee over numerous health concerns, including brain and breast tumors in rats during trials, as well as heart valve problems. However, these concerns dissipated after clinical trials showed these side effects did not appear on overweight and obese humans. The adverse effects experienced by those taking a 10 milligram dose of Lorcaserin included headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue and dry mouth.
Of the preliminary approval, Arena president and CEO, Jack Lief, says, “The advisory committee’s positive vote supports our belief in Lorcaserin as a potential new treatment option for the medical management of overweight and obesity. We will continue to work with the FDA as the agency completes its review of the lorcaserin new drug application.”
Michael Aziz, a internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City says, “There is a need for a drug that can address the obesity issue. But we are really not covering the root of the problem, which is lifestyle changes and eating right. Many people are just looking for a quick fix.”
Although the U.S. has previously approved other weight loss drugs with no great success, experts are still hoping for the magic ticket to weight loss, as projections of our nation’s obesity rates have reached 43% by 2030. While health professionals have cited numerous problems with other weight loss drugs such as Xenical, Phentermine and Alli, saying they’re either ineffective or cause too many side effects; they’re hoping this new drug proves otherwise.
If Lorcaserin is approved, it will reportedly enter the market under the name Lorqess. An Arena spokesman reported if the drug receives approval, a Japanese pharmaceutical company called Eisai has a US division that’s gained exclusive rights to commercialize the drug in the U.S.
As always, we urge people to consult a doctor before beginning any potentially dangerous weight loss regimen, especially ones that include a diet pill as the risk usually outweighs any benefit.