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Belviq: First Weight Loss Drug Approved by FDA in a Decade

The FDA has approved its first prescription weight loss pill in more than a decade, giving Belviq (locaserin hydrochloride) the stamp of approval. Manufactured by Arena Pharmaceuticals, Belviq is another tool doctors can use to stem the growing epidemic of obesity in the U.S. The FDA approved the drug despite findings that users may experience only modest weight loss results.

Weight loss pills approved by the FDA to treat obesity

Belviq is a weight loss pill approved for adults who fall into the obese category, or those who are classified as overweight and have at least one related medical condition, such as type II diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) over 30, while a BMI of 27 or more receives an “overweight” rating. Belviq is offered as a medical weight loss option for patients who have been unable to drop weight through diet and exercise alone.

According to the FDA, Belviq works by activating a serotonin inhibitor in the brain that is connected to feelings of satiety. As with other weight loss pills, it helps a person eat less during meals and feel full longer afterward. In clinical studies, Belviq helped nearly half of the patients studied lose 5 percent of their body weight or more, which qualified the drug as an “effective” by the FDA.

Physicians weigh in on diet drugs

As with other diet drugs, some physicians are skeptical about the effectiveness of the pill and concerned about the risk of side effects. One doctor from the Duke Diet and Fitness Center, Dr. Ronald Sha, told NBC that while FDA approval hopefully indicates Belviq is safe, side effects are a concern with all weight loss pills. As a result, Dr. Sha will not be prescribing the drug to his patients right away. He told NBC that he will wait until a few months after the drug hits the market to see whether side effects arise.

“There have been a number of weight loss medicines approved in this country that have subsequently been taken off the market after they’ve been found to have unpleasant side effects, so I think it’s be wise to just wait and see if it’s completely safe,” Dr. Sha told NBC.

On the other hand, Dr. Michael Kaplan of The Center for Medical Weight Loss, the largest group of non-surgical weight loss doctors in the country, said he is excited to offer patients another tool to help them shed excess pounds. “Our physicians look forward to having another tool in our toolbox to help our obese patients lose and keep off weight. Belviq/Locaserin should be a great addition to our treatment arsenal,” Kaplan said.

Only a doctor can prescribe weight loss pills

The Center for Medical Weight Loss has an impressive track record of success, with results that have been published in the American Journal of Medicine. The average participant in their program loses an average of 11.1% of their body weight in 12 weeks; this means that if a person weighs 250 pounds, they can expect to lose 28 pounds on average in 12 weeks. The physicians provide customized weight loss programs for individuals who want to learn how to lose weight fast without jeopardizing their health or safety. Read successful weight loss stories on their website at www.centerformedicalweightloss.com, and then enter your zip code in the box above to see if there is a Center in your area. Special offers are available for first time visitors at most locations.