Is this the weight loss wonderdrug we’ve been waiting for?
Exactly one year ago, we told you about Belviq, the first new FDA-approved weight loss drug to come along in years. Qysmia beat it to market, but now Belviq has finally hit the shelves.
Dr. Paul S. Bradley says, “We will be prescribing it, yes, but this is not a miracle drug. We will use it as part of a comprehensive program of weight loss that includes diet and exercise.”
What is Belviq?
Belviq is a new weight loss drug designed to give you that feeling of feeling of fullness—satiety—that you get after you have eaten a healthy meal (without overeating).
The drug was developed by Arena Pharmaceuticals and is indicated for those who are clinically obese (BMI of 30 or greater) and for those who are overweight with at least one co-morbidity, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes.
Does it work?
We are going to find out for sure, but in a series of clinical studies (and according to the company literature), patients taking Belviq achieved “statistically significantly greater weight loss” after one year, as compared to those taking a placebo. Individually, this meant “modest” weight loss, although half of the patients taking Belviq lost 5% of their body weight after one year.
It is important to note, however, that those clinical trials were conducted in conjunction with reduced caloric intake and increased physical activity. All patients received one-one-one instruction for a reduced-calorie diet and exercise counseling that began with the first dose of study medication and continued every four weeks throughout the trial.
In other words, even if you are taking Belviq, you are going to need to diet in order to see maximal results. (And so why not The Easiest Diet Ever? We deliver even better results for about the same price, and with no pills to take and no visits to the doctor.)
What about side effects and safety?
Weight loss drugs have traditionally had safety challenges, and it will be interesting to see what the post-marketing studies say after we have had a chance to use it in clinical practice.
Do not take Belviq if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, as Belviq may harm your unbon baby, as weight loss offers no potential benefit to pregnant women. It is also important to note that Belviq was not studied in those with significant heart disease, though echocardiograms were done on approximately 8,000 patients, revealing no statistically-significant differences in the heart valves of those on the drug vs. placebo.
The side effects of Belviq include headaches, mood changes, memory disturbances, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, dry mouth, and constipation. The drug can cause hypoglycemia in diabetic patients and should be prescribed with caution in patients who take other medications that affect our serotonin receptors.
Belviq costs about $200 a month, so it’s not exactly cheap. There is some chance that your insurance company may assist in covering the cost. The company is currently offering a 15-day free trial of Belviq, but no matter what, you’ll be taking a pill twice a day (and paying for it) for as long as you want to maintain any benefits from the drug.
How do I know if Belviq is right for me?
If your BMI is between 27 and 30 and you have one or more medical problems, you may qualify for a prescription. As always, we recommend that you speak to your health care provider before taking any new medication.
No matter what, it is important to remember that medications are only part of the weight loss equation. You still have to embrace healthy eating and exercise habits to be successful in the long term, so contact us and we will help you get skinny one day at a time!
- Elizabeth Brennan, PA-C