FDA finally gave up. After 13 years of resisting the pressure of pharmaceutical companies and three quarters of Americans, all those who are considered overweight, this government body finally approved a pill for weight loss. Its official name is lorcaserin, but it will be sold under the name Belviq. The reaction was immediate, in all circles of the society. Nobody was indifferent. Overweight people were delighted, other companies producing weight loss pills had their hopes up, and various consumer protection agencies launched protests. What has FDA done?
ARNA, a division of Arena Pharmaceuticals, did their due diligence, and their results are impressive. Lorcaserin works. There were two major trials, both highly successful. People who took it lost almost four times more weight than those who took placebo.
Lorcaserin is not for everyone. It has been approved for obese people, those with body mass index higher than 30 and for people with a BMI of 27, if they also have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or some other risk factor. This covers about 60 percent of adult Americans. So, ARNA is going to get very rich.
It is not quite clear if lorcaserin can potentially damage heart valve muscle, like the drug Qnexa, the next one awaiting the FDA approval. This got consumer watch group Public Citizen to launch a campaign trying to warn public of the potential danger. US preventive Services task force issued a recommendation not to use diet drugs to fight obesity, since there are many safety problems and there is lack of proof that people can keep the weight off once they stop taking the drug. Their statement was published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The biggest risk factor is the fact that so many people whose health is in serious danger because they are obese or overweight will forget all they have been told about the need for healthy balanced nutrition and regular physical activities. They now have pills to take care of their weight, so they can finally relax and do nothing. Our attraction to instant, easy solution is well-known and it brought us to where we are. Unfortunately, the government is also attracted to easy and quick solutions. The real picture will not emerge until huge number of people go through the prescribed diet pill regimes and stop taking them. What happens then? Are they going to take pills for ever, or are they going back to healthy diet and regular exercise?
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