Have you heard that the FDA approved not one, but TWO new weight loss drugs this summer? Hooray! Our problems are solved, right? Are there still overweight doctors out there? Well…yes, there are, so that should give you a clue that these new drugs are not miracle workers.
Today I will focus on the first drug approved. Locaserin, brand name Belviq, came out in June 2012. This drug will decrease your hunger and increase your feelings of satiety (feeling full after a meal). Locaserin works within the serotonin system (like the antidepressants such as Prozac) but targets a specific receptor that is key in the appetite game, rather than mood. Fenfluramine, an older drug with a similar mode of action, was removed from the market in 1997 due to concerns of its detrimental affect on heart valves. The selling point of locaserin is that it targets a different, very specific receptor that is not linked to these deleterious valve changes.
In the studies necessary to get approved by the FDA, patients on this drug lost an average of 12 pounds in one year. Let me remind you that good steady weight loss is a pound or two per month (not the 30 pounds in 30 days we all would like), so this is reasonable weight loss. However, from my standpoint, I’d like to see a drug produce better results before risking the side effects. In this case, side effects of lorcaserin include headache, dizziness & nausea. So at this point, I am not impressed enough to prescribe this drug.
BOTTOM LINE: Lorcaserin (Belviq) may provide obese patients help with decreasing their appetite & increasing satiety, but does not provide dramatic weight loss results.