Recently the news that a large well conducted clinical trial (CAMELLIA-TIMI61) confirmed the safety of the drug lorcaserin was well received and interpreted by many as a new entrant into the obesity market. However, lorcaserin (Belviq, Eisai) had been approved by the FDA in 2012 but it is not approved for use by the European authorities. So the news that the drug appears safe over 2 years is welcome. It does not appear to increase the risk of any major adverse cardiac events (MACE) – including cardiovascular death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, and nonfatal stroke. Previous drugs of this class used to lead to an increase in heart valve problems though, at least for the duration of these studies, lorcarserin does not appear to have the same risk.
Many of the patients in the study also had diabetes. Weight loss after lorcaserin, as expected, reduced the conversion rate to diabetes of those who did not have diabetes before losing weight.
There is a reluctance amongst many physicians to prescribe drugs for obesity and, in fairness, the therapeutic arena has been littered with false dawns and drugs that had to be withdrawn for unacceptable side effects.
However, Belviq, if approved by the European authorities, can be added to Saxenda and Mysimba as useful therapeutic options in the battle against obesity.
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Carol Willis - Diabetes Clinic Facilitator
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