Agency approval for prescription only obesity drug is first for 13 years

The US Food and Drug Administration has given the nod to anti-obesity drug lorcaserin. The drug, which has been developed by US-based Arena Pharmaceuticals, in conjunction with Japan’s Eisai, is the first obesity prescription medicine approved for 13 years.

The approval comes after a lengthy review by the FDA over concerns that the drug might cause damage to heart valves. The drug, which will be marketed as Belviq, will be used to treat people with a body mass index of 30 or greater. In trials, the average weight loss among volunteers who combined the drug with exercise and dieting was between 3% and 3.7% greater than a placebo. The drug works by activating the serotonin 2C receptor in the brain which is thought to increase feelings of satiety.

Weight loss drugs have recently had a torrid time of it, with Abbott’s sibutramine and rimonabant from Sanofi withdrawn from the market and other candidates failing at late stage clinical trials.