Arena Pharmaceuticals was given the A-OK to start manufacturing the weight loss drug, Belviq or generically known as Lorcaserin that is taken two times per day. The drug works by influencing serotonin levels (for additional information on serotonin and appetite, please see the Science Daily article here). Serotonin has been a hot research topic when it comes to combating obesity.
According to a recent article in NPR, Janet Woodcock, FDA's drug center director was quoted: "Obesity threatens the overall well-being of patients and is a major public health concern...the approval of this drug, used responsibly in combination with a healthy diet and lifestyle, provides a treatment option for Americans who are obese or are overweight and have at least one weight-related comorbid condition."
This drug will be available for Americans who meet the following criteria: BMI of 27 with a weight related comorbid condition (Diabetes, Hypertension, etc.) or a BMI of 30.
Studies have shown a decrease in body weight over the past year of 5%. To further illustrate this, a 160 lb. woman who is 5 feet tall would be considered obese. With a 5% weight reduction she would lose around 8 lbs and weigh 152 lbs.
The drug was previously rejected in 2010 as Lorcaserin has a similar affect as Phen-Phen did in the 90's.
It's not on the shelves of your local pharmacy just yet. Arena still has 6 more studies to evaluate the drug's safety.
As dietitians and consumers we have to evaluate the effectiveness of the drug, complications, and those just looking for a quick fix. Obesity is caused by many factors, what do you think about this new drug and other weight loss drugs in the past?
Gina Lesako RD, LDN, registered dietitian, writer/blogger. Follow Gina on Twitter @glesako;
blog: Dietitians Eat Chocolate Too, or on the web: ginalesako.com.