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New FDA Approved Diet Pill Belviq is Now Available

Tim Boyer's picture
Diet pill for weight loss

This week the biopharmaceutical company Arena Pharmaceuticals announced the release of its FDA approved diet pill - Belviq (pronounced BEL-VEEK) - that is available by prescription for patients with weight problems that meet specific health criteria.

Belviq was originally approved by the FDA last year, but had been delayed in its release due a required Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) review.

According to its manufacturer, Belviq—also known as locaserin hydrochloride—works by activating serotonin receptors in the brain. Serotonin relays signals between brain cells and is known primarily for regulating mood and behavior and has thus been a favored target of many weight loss products. Belviq reportedly works by suppressing appetite and increasing feelings of satiety after eating smaller amounts of food than usual for an individual. However, its exact mechanism of action is unknown.

Belviq is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as an ancillary weight loss medication to be used in conjunction with increased exercise and a reduced calorie diet in adults with chronic weight loss problems.

To qualify for a prescription, patients must present with an initial body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or greater ( clinically obese), or 27 kg/m2 or greater (clinically overweight) in the presence of at least one weight-related comorbid condition such as high blood pressure (hypertension), dyslipidemia (high cholesterol), or Type 2 diabetes.

"Our team discovered and developed Belviq with the goal of providing physicians with a new tool to help fight the global obesity epidemic," said Dominic P. Behan, Ph.D., Arena's Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer. "We are proud to provide physicians in the United States with a new treatment option that along with diet and exercise can help committed patients effectively manage their weight."

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Expected weight loss using Belviq is approximately 5% of a person’s initial weight upon beginning treatment that lasts 12 weeks as demonstrated in earlier clinical weight loss studies. However, results are varied between multiple studies and some patients reported side effects. The most common adverse reactions for the medication include:

• In patients without diabetes: headache (17%), dizziness (9%), fatigue (7%), nausea (8%), dry mouth (5%), and constipation (6%).
• In patients with diabetes: hypoglycemia (29%), headache (15%), back pain (12%), cough (8%), and fatigue (7%).

Furthermore, patients are cautioned not to exceed the recommended dose of 10 mg twice daily as higher doses may cause euphoria, hallucination, and dissociation.

Belviq should not be taken during pregnancy or by women who are planning to become pregnant.

Image Source: Courtesy of PhotoBucket


Arena press release: “Arena Pharmaceuticals Reports on Launch of BELVIQ® (lorcaserin HCl) CIV for Chronic Weight Management in Adults who are Overweight with a Comorbidity or Obese.”

FDA press release: “FDA approves Belviq to treat some overweight or obese adults.”