About Lorcaserin Hydrochloride (Belviq)
June 28, 2012
In June 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the weight loss drug lorcaserin hydrochloride (Belviq) to be used with a healthy eating plan and exercise for chronic weight management in certain people. Belviq is approved for adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher (classified as obesity) and adults with a BMI of at least 27 (classified as overweight) who have a weight-related health condition like hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes.
Lorcaserin activates a certain receptor in the brain and triggers a feeling of fullness after eating a smaller amount of food—helping a person to eat less. In clinical trials involving obese or overweight people with or without type 2 diabetes, those who took Belviq in combination with a reduced calorie eating plan and exercise program lost more weight than those who followed a diet and exercise plan but took a placebo.
Belviq also is associated with improvements in blood glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes. FDA approval for the drug stipulates that Belviq should be discontinued after 12 weeks in people who do not lose at least 5 percent of their body weight during that time. According to studies, these people are not likely to achieve success with this treatment.
Side Effects of Belviq
Belviq is not approved for use in women who are pregnant and should be used with caution in people with congestive heart failure (CHF). It may cause serious side effects including inattention, memory loss and a potentially life-threatening drug reaction called serotonin syndrome. This reaction, which requires hospitalization and treatment, is more common in people who are also taking certain other medications, such as migraine medicines (triptans) and antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs] and selective serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors [SSNRIs]).
Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:
- Agitation or restlessness
- Changes in blood pressure
- Increased body temperature and heart rate
- Loss of coordination and overactive muscle reflexes
- Nausea and vomiting
In people with type 2 diabetes who take Belviq, common side effects include back pain, cough, fatigue, headache and low blood sugar. In people who don’t have diabetes, side effects include constipation, dizziness, dry mouth, fatigue, headache and nausea.
According to the FDA, studies about the long-term effects of Belviq, including how it may affect heart attack risk, stroke risk and other cardiovascular events, are ongoing.