Miracle weight loss medicines abound on the internet. They pop up at you ceaselessly, promising assured weight loss in record time with zero side effects and a discretion that will never be given up. Of course whether or not these products actually deliver is another argument entirely, but they do play upon a sentiment that is real, with everyone clamoring to find a miracle drug to tuck in those tummies, alternatives that do not actually involve getting liposuction or indeed going on a diet or doing some exercise.
And the fact that the US Food and Drug Administration has, for the first time, approved a weight loss pill in nearly 13 years means that all of the assurances given above are bogus at best.
Last week, the FDA approved the weight loss pill, Belviq, after initially rejecting the pill back in 2010. Made by Arena Pharmaceuticals, the pill has shown in clinical trials that if used by the overweight or the obese it is able to help them loose around 5 percent of their body weight.
Approval for Belviq was initially denied in 2010, when it was learnt that the pill led to the development of tumors in animals that it was tested upon. However, after Arena Pharmaceutical resubmitted their application with more data, the FDA approved the drug, which will go on sale sometime next year.
The FDA, however, cautions that the use of Belviq can be harmful for pregnant women or mothers who are nursing.
Belviq itself is an appetite suppressant which blocks appetite stimuli that are sent to the brain, making people feel more sated with lesser amounts of food. The drug has been suggested to be used by those with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater, but it can also be used with those who have a BMI of 27 or greater if they have any existing conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
But while the pill may ensure weight loss, it does come with side effects. Possible side effects of taking Belviq include headaches, migraines, depression and even memory lapses. The FDA recommends that the pill be used only for 12 weeks if 5 percent weight loss occurs.
Nonetheless, the statement released by the FDA states that Belviq does not pose any risks to the heart as did the fen-phen combination drugs, which were discontinued in the market after it was discovered that they affected the heart.
Now with the approval, Arena Pharmaceutical must conduct six studies, including one on effects on long-term health, after they begin marketing the drug.