By Sandra Birungi
A new weight loss drug has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The Arena Pharmaceutical’s anti-obesity pill Belviq helps one to lose weight permanently. It was approved for adults who are obese or overweight with at least one medical complication for example diabetes.
The drug as first denied approval by FDA after it was realized that it had a possibility of causing tumors after it was revealed that it could cause tumors to animals. However, after extensive research, it was found out that it had little risk of tumors in humans.
According to a press release by FDA, Belviq “does not appear to activate” a chemical pathway that was linked to the heart problems seen with fen-phen. It went on to say that the drug acts on a different chemical pathway in the brain, which is believed to reduce appetite by boosting feelings of satiety and fullness.
Studies from Arena showed that patients taking the drug had modest weight loss. Patients on average lost just 3 to 3.7 percent of their starting body weight over a year. About 47 percent of patients without diabetes lost at least 5 percent of their weight or more.
Possible side effects of Belviq include depression, migraine and memory lapses. The challenge of weight loss drug development is in safely turning off one of the body’s fundamental directives: to eat enough food to maintain its current weight according to experts.
This becomes the first drug to be approved by FDA in over a decade.