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Joslin Statement on Lorcaserin

Joslin Statement on Lorcaserin

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The FDA has approved a new weight loss drug. It's meant to help people who are obese and suffering from additional health problems related to their weight, such as type 2 diabetes.  The drug will be sold under the name Belviq [lorcaserin]. 

Belviq works by activating a receptor, called the serotonin 2C receptor, which is primarily located in the brain. Activation of this receptor may help a person feel full after eating smaller amounts of food and thus eat less.  In clinical trials patients who took Belviq lost an average of 3 percent more weight compared to those on placebo after one year.  However, about twice as many patients using Belviq lost at least 5 percent of their body weight compared to patients taking placebo.  Some people do not respond to Belviq.  Patients who fail to lose 5 percent of their body weight after 12 weeks are unlikely to respond to the medication and should not continue to use it. 

In patients with type 2 diabetes, Belviq treatment was associated with favorable changes in glycemic control.

The most common side effects of Belviq in non-diabetic patients are headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, dry mouth, and constipation, and in diabetic patients are low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), headache, back pain, cough, and fatigue. 

Belviq should not be used in pregnancy, in patients who are on certain types of medication used to treat depression, and should be used in caution in patients which congestive heart failure.  The active ingredient if Belviq is related to the drug dexfenfluramine, which was withdrawn from the market due to heart valve abnormalities.  Heart valve function was assessed by echocardiography in the Belviq development program.  There was no statistically significant difference in the development of valve abnormalities between Belviq and placebo-treated patients.

It will be several months before Belviq is available for use.

The Joslin Diabetes Center recognizes the importance of weight management in overweight patients with diabetes and offers multiple approaches including nutritional and exercise counseling, and multi-disciplinary medical and group approaches to weight management.   Basic science and clinical research programs are ongoing at the Joslin to to find new ways to treat or prevent excess weight and type 2 diabetes.

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Joslin does not endorse products or services.

Page last updated: July 31, 2014