When I found out the FDA approved Belviq to treat some overweight and obese adults, my mind immediately went back to 1999. That’s the last time the FDA approved a weight loss drug – Xenical. I covered the news as a health reporter at KAKE-TV. I also covered the news two years prior when the infamous fen-phen combo was taken off the market…
Remember fen-phen? The weight-loss drugs fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine were pulled in 1997 because they caused heart valve damage. Ever since then, I’ve worried about the safety of diet pills. And with reason.
Check out some of these headlines AFTER a weight loss drug has already been on the market:
Back to Belviq. It was initially turned down by the FDA in 2010 because of safety concerns. Now, the agency has given it the green light for obese adults or those who are overweight and have at least one weight-related condition such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol. Belviq activates a receptor in the brain, called serotonin 2C, in a way that controls eating and makes people feel full.
BUT that is also how it is similar to fenfluramine. From the FDA:
In 1997, the weight-loss drugs fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine were withdrawn from the market after evidence emerged that they caused heart valve damage. This effect is assumed to be related to activation of the serotonin 2B receptor on heart tissue. When used at the approved dose of 10 milligrams twice a day, Belviq does not appear to activate the serotonin 2B receptor.
Here we go again? Only time will tell. But I’ll be here to cover the outcome either way.
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