WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- In the battle against obesity, a weight loss drug discovered in a study has revealed promising results.
- Lorcaserin is an appetite suppressant that stimulates brain chemicals to induce a feeling of fullness.
- Dubbed as the “holy grail” of weight loss drugs, it is said to be the first drug deemed safe for heart health with long-term use.
A weight loss drug discovered in a study has revealed promising results: at-risk participants using the drug Lorcaserin have lost over 4kgs (almost 10 pounds) without an accompanying increase in their risks of cardiovascular problems. Lorcaserin, according to the study authors, is an appetite suppressant that stimulates brain chemicals to induce a feeling of fullness.
The research led by Dr. Erin Bohula said in a statement: “The study showed for the first time in a rigorous, randomized way that this weight loss drug helps people lose weight without causing an increase in adverse cardiovascular events in a population at higher risk for heart attacks and strokes.”
Dubbed as the “holy grail” of weight loss drugs, it is said to be the first drug deemed safe for heart health with long-term use. However, Tam Fry of the UK-based National Obesity Forum cautioned that in achieving effective weight loss, “lifestyle has got to be the root and branch part of this.”
To test the safety of the drug, the researchers followed the overall state of health of 12,000 overweight and obese patients over a three-year period, who were randomly assigned a placebo or lorcaserin.
Patients who were prescribed lorcaserin lost 4.2 kgs (9 lbs) on average, while those on placebo lost 1.4 kgs (3 lbs). Further analysis showed no significant differences in heart valve damage and other cardiovascular events such as stroke for those who took Lorcaserin, as compared to those who were given a placebo.
This has been the primary concern of the researchers over the safety of slimming pills. Weight loss pills have been banned in the past after they were found to increase risks of heart attacks, strokes, pulmonary hypertension and valvular heart disease.
Published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the results also found the drug to lower the risks of developing diabetes among borderline patients, as well as being associated to reducing blood pressure levels, triglycerides, blood glucose and heart rates.
Although an improvement of cardiovascular health was not observed, the “magnitude of impact on cardiovascular risk factors was relatively small,” explained by Bohula, a cardiovascular medicine and critical care specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
The drug is taken twice a day and costs between $220-290 per month in the U.S.