Sunday, December 23, 2018

Belviq May Give Weight Loss Drugs a Boost

In general, there are three approaches to weight loss and weight management. These approaches are lifestyle modification (including diet and exercise), weight loss surgery, and antiobesity drugs. While each approach can be successful, each one of these approaches has associated problems. Changes in lifestyle are hard for individuals to adhere to for a long period of time. Weight loss surgery can give rise to serious complications. And antiobesity drugs have often produced disappointing weight loss results and severe side effects. But one drug, Belviq, is showing positive results.

Over the past several years, four antiobesity drugs have gained FDA approval and become available for the treatment of obesity. These drugs are Qsymia (phentermine/topiramate), produced by Vivus, Belviq (lorcaserin) produced by Arena, Contrave (bupropion/naltrexone), produced by Orexigen and Saxenda (liraglutide), produced by Novo Nordisk. These drugs give providers new tools to fight obesity. But the drugs have not had the impact that some desired.

However, one of the antiobesity drugs, Belviq, may change that. For example, according to one study, Belviq did not increase the participants' risk of major cardiovascular events compared to the placebo group.  Cardiovascular problems have been a concern since the days of the antiobesity drug, fen/phen (fenfluramine/phentermine), which was taken off the market in 1997.

Also, "Weight loss of at least 5% occurred in 38.7% of those assigned [Belviq] vs. 17.4% of those assigned placebo." Further, the "Researchers observed small but significant improvements in in BP, heart rate, triglyceride levels and HbA1c during the course of the study ..."

Therefore, the study may motivate providers to prescribe Belviq for weight loss. One stumbling block is the cost of the drug, which is $280.00 per month, retail. But if the cost-benefit ratio can be justified by payers, and if commercial insurers start to reimburse providers for the drug, the drug will likely see an increase in use.


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