Weight loss drugs, also commonly known as diet pills, have a long and thorny history. A truly safe weight loss medication has been eluding researchers for decades, and even with recent pharmaceutical advancements is still not an option. One of the only weight loss drugs to gain FDA approval in recent memory was Belviq, which turned out to have severe and dangerous side effects for its users.

Difficulties of Weight Loss Drugs

Despite billions of dollars in research funding, scientists have yet to find a magic pill that can rid the world of obesity. The complexities of different sources of extra weight and the interactions between these factors are just a few reasons one drug is unlikely to ever work for most of the population.

Weight gain can be caused by genetics, emotions, psychological condition, and someone’s social and environmental factors. The availability of appropriate food and nutrients has also been linked to a risk of weight gain. Weight loss drugs typically focus on the biological impact on weight gain, targeting predispositions for being overweight. In order to do so, these drugs often seek to raise someone’s metabolic rate or lower their appetite through brain chemistry.

Risks of Side Effects

One of the reasons that weight-loss drugs often have adverse effects is the health of the people who take them. People who are overweight are already at a higher risk of problems with their heart and circulation.

Stimulants that increase metabolism are frequently connected to a higher risk of stroke or cardiovascular problems. Many of the popular weight loss medications from recent decades, like Meridia and ephedra, have actually increased a patient’s risk of a heart attack.

Other types of medications seek to fight against patterns of addiction and unhealthy or uncontrollable eating habits. This group of medications alters brain chemistry to try to change a patient’s behavior or desires.

The main brain chemical to modify is serotonin, which is responsible for stabilizing mood and feelings of well-being. Unfortunately, researchers still can not precisely target specific elements in the brain. Many of these drugs come with a risk of intense mood swings, depression, confusion, agitation, and sometimes even thoughts of suicide.

Belviq and Lorcaserin

One of the serotonin modifying weight loss drugs was Belviq, the first weight loss medication that the Food and Drug Administration had approved in over thirteen years. Belivq contained lorcaserin, a powerful serotonin modifier. Lorcaserin was intended to curb appetites by activating a serotonin receptor in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls appetite among other things.

Belviq had rare cases of the phycological problems associated with this type of medication, but its main danger was the lorcaserin causing cancer in patients.

Lorcaserin was originally rejected by the FDA due to the results of its early trials. These original tests showed a high prevalence of tumors in the rats that were taking the lorcaserin. Early indicators also showed that the weight loss properties were marginal at best.

But in 2012, lorcaserin was approved for use under extreme regulation and supervision for use in humans. In 2016, an extended-release version was also brought to market, and Belviq was available more broadly in the U.S. market.

In 2020, the FDA was finally able to fully review a clinical trial that lorcaserin’s approval was contingent on. The study looked at five years of patient data and the impact of lorcaserin, and researchers found that Belivq caused a higher rate of cancer. If you or a loved one took Belviq, seek a medical evaluation and contact a Belviq lawsuit lawyer.

Any Future for Weight Loss Prescriptions?

The FDA continues to reject proposals for new weight loss drugs that can not thoroughly prove a clean track record. Belviq was considered one of the safest weight loss drugs in recent years, yet now many people question how it was ever approved for human use. With over a third of Americans overweight and dying in large numbers due to their obesity, one can only hope that a magic pill will be discovered someday. A drug that doesn’t also carry these deadly risks.


Samantha Alvord

Samantha Alvord is a legal expert and a passionate writer who works tirelessly to inform people about the field of personal injury, her area of specialty. She has a talent for making complex legal concepts...

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