Saturday, June 30, 2012

Belviq -- New Weight Loss Drug Approved by FDA

On June 27 the FDA gave the green light to the newest prescription weight loss drug, called Belviq (lorcaserin hydrochloride), describing it as an adjunct to a healthy diet and exercise for chronic weight management. As with any drug, there are potential side effects; although none serious enough to prevent the FDA from giving the go ahead for use of this drug with people who have a BMI 30 or greater, or a BMI of 27 or greater with concurrent morbidities such as diabetes or high blood pressure. (Ideal BMI range is 18-25 and you can calculate yours here.) When someone has conditions that could be improved with weight loss, the benefits of taking the drug often outweigh the possible complications that could arise from taking the prescription medication. 

I find the results quite disappointing for a prescription weight-loss drug that works by helping to reduce appetite. Trial participants taking Belviq for up to one year lost an average of 3 to 3.7 percent of their body weight. For a 250-pound person this is 7.5 to 10 pounds--hardly a noticeable amount for an obese individual. To make these results even more discouraging, the trial also included counseling for lifestyle modification including a lower calorie diet and exercise. Take note, this means there is no chance that this is the magic pill you've been waiting for!

Another drug expected to receive approval some time in 2012 is Qnexa. This prescription is a combination of two drugs; one (phentermine) that acts as an appetite suppressant and the other (topiramate--prescribed as an anticonvulsant) found to have weight loss properties.  These studies show a little more promise for weight loss than Belviq, with study participants averaging closer to 10% loss of their initial body weight over a year or two. As with Belviq, the drug is supposed to be used in combination with a reduced-calorie diet and exercise program.

Losing 10% of your body weight can, in many cases, improve blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels, even reducing the need for medication. So it's still a good plan if nothing's worked in the past to promote lasting weight loss. Perhaps taking the pill gives some people the little boost they need to get moving on their new diet and exercise regimen. But if you just eat a little less and move a little more, you could lose more weight in less time. And with zero potential for serious side effects.

For assistance with your weight loss, visit The Diet Coach.

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