The dramatic approval of Lorcaserin, now known by the trade name Belviq, was announced on June 27, 2012. Lorcaserin, CAS# 846589-98-8, is the first drug to be approved for weight loss in over twelve years. This announcement, made by representatives from both Easai and Arena Pharmaceuticals was a welcome one for researchers, patients and practitioners seeking to remedy the obesity epidemic in the United States. With an estimated 35 percent of adult Americans considered clinically obese, this approval of Lorcaserin by the FDA is both encouraging and groundbreaking.
Belviq, or Lorcaserin is effectual for weight management, including weight loss and maintenance of weight loss. As a treatment targeting patients who are categorized as clinically obese, lorcaserin is ideal for patients with a Body Mass Index, or BMI, >30, or patients who are overweight (BMI >27), and also have at least one weight related co-morbid condition. Initial concerns from the FDA upon review of lorcaserin in 2010 were regarding an apparent greater incidence of tumors in animals tested with this pivotal weight loss drug. However, after Easai and Arena Pharmaceuticals submitted additional data at the beginning of 2012 for review by the FDA, it was determined that there was no clear risk of tumors following treatment with lorcaserin.
While side effects include possible depression or mood changes, as well as headache, dizziness and nausea, these were not deemed to be severe in clinical trials. Results from recent trials of lorcaserin indicated an average loss of 3 to 3.7 percent of body weight for patients participating. While these results are considered modest by some, considering this was over a year period, they are indicative of progress nonetheless. The FDA offered reassurance to patients through a statement in a press release that Belviq “does not appear to activate” the dangerous chemical pathway seen in patients who took fen-phen back in 1997. The heart valve problems from fen-phen, which was not approved by the FDA, are not under scrutiny as life threatening effects of lorcaserin.
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