On May 10, the FDA ruled in favor of approving the weight loss drug, lorcaserin hydrochloride, which will be sold under the brand name Lorqess. Lorcaserin, along with a similar drug called Qnexa, were denied approval in 2010 after advisory committees found them to be unsafe for general consumption. Approval was granted to both drugs after positive data was provided to the committee this year. Qnexa was approved last February.
Lorqess suppresses the appetite, which helps patients lose weight by causing them to feel less hungry. It is called a selective serotonin 2C receptor agonist and suppresses appetitie by altering various serotonin receptors found within the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that is responsible for mediating a person’s appetite and metabolism. It works similarly to the drug fenfluramine (found in the product Fen-Phen), which is now banned for causing various, serious heart problems. The makers of Lorqess say it is far more selective than fenfluramine, demonstrating none of the destructive heart issues through clinical tests. A 52-week test, involving over 3000 obese patients taking 10mg twice daily had an average weight loss of 5.8% (12.7lbs) compared to the placebo groups results of 2.2% (4.7lbs) The study also showed that 22% of lorcaserin-taking patients lost 10% or greater bodyweight as compared to the 7.7% of weight lost in the placebo group. 47.5% of Lorqess patients lost at least 5% of their weight whereas 20.3% of the placebo group lost 5% of their weight.
Qnexa is a product that combines phentermine (weight-loss medication) and topiramate (used to treat seizures), two agents approved by the FDA, in an extended-release capsule, taken once per day. A 56-week study (the EQUIP study) evaluated the efficacy and safety of the Qnexa in 1,267 severely obese patients in the U.S. The following results from the EQUIP study were published in the peer-reviewed journal, Obesity:
- Average weight loss for Qnexa patients who completed the study and took the top dose was 14.4%, compared to 2.1% in the placebo group
- Among patients who completed the top dose course of treatment, 83.5% lost ≥5%; 67.7% lost ≥10%; and 48.1% lost ≥15% of their baseline weight; compared to 17%, 7% and 3%, respectively, in the placebo group.
Is a weight loss medication right for you?
Consider this question carefully. Most medications carry a risk of side effects. I would recommend only considering medication as an option for weight loss if traditional weight loss plans have failed. I highly recommend meeting with a dietitian for diet assessment, meal-planning and goal-setting prior to considering a weight-loss medication and throughout treatment. Remember, these weight loss medications aid in hunger control, but in order to be successful in maintaining any weight loss, it is of utmost importance to eat a healthy, balanced diet combined with regular physical activity. If you think you might be ready to try a medicaiton to help you with weight loss, talk with your doctor.