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FDA approves first new weight-loss pill in 13 years

June 27, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A little blue pill may be the answer that millions of overweight and obese Americans have been waiting for. It's called Belviq, and it's the first weight loss drug to be approved by the Federal Drug Administration in 13 years.

Belviq works by activating a receptor in the brain which makes you feel full. The pill can yield an average weight loss of 17 to 18 pounds. Those who took the drug in clinical trials also saw improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Doctor Peter Vash is a weight loss specialist with Lindora. He warns there is no such thing as a miracle pill, but believes Belviq will help melt the pounds when combined with a reduced calorie diet and exercise.

"I think it will help the patient to get a handle of what they're doing for weight loss and be very effective," said Vash.

In 2010, the FDA denied approval of Belviq after scientists raised concerns about heart valve risks and an increase of tumors that developed in animals used in the studies. But when the drug manufacturer resubmitted Belviq with additional data earlier this year, the FDA determined there was no risk of heart valve problems and minimal risk of tumors in humans.

While a long line of weight loss drugs have been deemed unsafe and pulled from the market, most notably Fen Phen, the FDA says Belviq is safe.

While some believe the best answer to weight loss is in exercise and proper nutrition, Vash says just pushing away from the dinner table isn't so simple for millions of Americans.

"If you want to face reality, you can say till the cows come home you should do those things, it hasn't been done and will not be done, so people need something else," he said.

Belviq is manufactured by the San Diego-based Arena Pharmaceuticals and is due on the market in early 2013.


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