FDA approves new diet pill
  • Thu, 06/28/2012 - 4:08pm

Despite nonprofit consumer watchdog group Public Citizen reminding the FDA about dangerous drug Fen-Phen earlier this week, the agency approved a new diet pill on Wednesday. According to the Los Angeles Times, Arena Pharmaceuticals’ lorcaserin will be marketed as Belviq in the burgeoning U.S.

Like fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine, marketed as Fen-Phen in the ‘90s before the FDA recalled the drug(s) in 1997 for damaging heart valves, lorcaserin showed the potential for heart problems during clinical trials. The FDA even rejected the drug in October of 2010, citing cancer risks, according to Reuters. Arena and partner Eisai Pharmaceuticals apparently demonstrated to the FDA that side effects seen in laboratory rats would not occur at the dose given to humans, according to Reuters and the Los Angeles Times.

Only time will tell if the drug will be recalled like Fen-Phen and Meridia, which was recalled in October of 2010 for increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. In the meantime, we do know, thanks to the Los Angeles Times, that:

  • more than 1 in 3 U.S. adults is obese, and another 36 percent are considered overweight; and
  • obesity-related diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease amount to $147 billion a year in healthcare costs.

According to the Times, people popping Belviq can expect to lose about 5 percent of their body weight, as two-thirds of study participants did. A third of those participants lost 10 percent, or an average of 17 to 18 pounds, while dieting and exercising.

The FDA advised that the drug is only for those with a body mass index of 30 or higher or a body mass index of 27 or higher in addition to high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes. It also said that the drug’s safety has not been studied in combination with other diet medications. Nor has the long-term risk of a heart attack or stroke been established.

The FDA did not approve the drug for children, but as we stated today in a post on the Legal Examiner today, doctors are permitted to prescribe drugs for off-label uses.


About the Contributor

Kaitlin Gill
I report on news regarding product safety concerns for individuals and families.

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