The Prescription Diet Pill Market Finally Grows
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The Prescription Diet Pill Market Finally Grows

The prescription diet pill market has finally expanded. It has been announced that Belviq and Qsymia have joined the team and are the new FDA (Food and Drug administration) approved prescription diet pills. Why the big celebration? Well Belviq and Qsymia are the first new approvals in 13 years since Xenical was approved.


Why has it taken 13 years? Drug companies have worked on new weight loss drugs but none have proven effective and safe for consumers until now. Before Belviq and Qsymia the only prescription drugs that were approved for long-term treatment of obesity was Orlistat, which is marketed as Xenical and is sold over the counter in a lower dose with the label Alli.

There were many other diet drugs but they had to be removed due to concerns about damage to heart valves. These include Fenfluramine (part of Fen-phen) and dexfenfluramine (redux) in 1997. In 2010, the drug sibutramine(Meridia) was also removed because of concerns about an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Therefore, the FDA has been cautious before finally approving these two drugs with fears over the potential side effects and misuse by the public.

With these two drugs now approved, there is hope that a marketing battle will begin and new diet drugs will be encouraged.


Arena Pharmaceuticals, the owners of Belviq (Lorcaserin Hydrochloride) have recently announced that the US Drug Enforcement Agency has listed Belviq as a schedule IV controlled substance. This means that Belviq has less potential for abuse or addiction and as a result, Belviq shall be seen in US pharmacies some time in June. Arena will also receive $65 million in milestone payments from Eisai Inc under their marketing and supply agreement.

This is good news for Arena Pharmaceuticals after having the drug rejected in 2010 by the FDA who had concerns about safety, citing tumours that developed in the lab animals as a concern.

Belviq (pronounced Bel-veek), should be used as part of a calorie controlled diet with exercise for use in chronic weight control. It is aimed at adults with a BMI above 30 (classed as obese) and for adults with a BMI of 27 (overweight) or above if they also have at least one weight related medical condition such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes etc. Pregnant women or women who are breast-feeding must not use the tablets.

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It is believed that Belviq decreases food consumption and leaves you feeling fuller by selectively activating Serotonin 2C receptors in the brain; this area is known to regulate appetite. This is the same area that was targeted by Fenfluramine, but manufacturers of Belviq state that it is much more selective than Fenfluramine and is much safer because it specifically targets serotonin receptors associated with hunger.

A study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine two years ago showed that those who took the tablets lost weight and kept it off more than those that took the placebo. They also closely monitored for heart valve irregularities, which was a big problem with the other diet pills, but found no difference between the two groups.

Belviq isn’t without side effects, the most common are headaches, dizziness and fatigue etc. Those with diabetes can also suffer from hypoglycaemia, back pain and a cough. There are also more serious side effects especially for those who have heart conditions, see here for more details.


Vivus, the makers of Qsymic, after pressures from their shareholders have finally decided to market Qsymia more effectively to boost its dwindling sales. They hope their sales will increase when Qsymia becomes available in thousands of retail pharmacies in the US, over the next few months. Vivus have also recruited Richard Fante to work on the commercial options for the Qsymia pill in the hope of boosting their sales of the pill and getting back into the prescription diet pill market.

Qsymia is a combination of two medications, Phentermine and Topiramate, because it contains Phentermine and can be abused or lead to drug dependencies it is a federally controlled substance (CIV).

The drug works in two ways, Phentermine starts working immediately and is thought to reduce your appetite, while Topiramate works through out the day to make you feel full. The exact way in which Qsymia works is not yet known.

There are many side effects related to the taking of Qsymia such as mood swings, trouble sleeping, low blood sugar and increases of acid in the blood stream (metabolic acidosis). Other side effects also include numbness, dizziness and constipation, click here to see more.

With the FDA’s recent approval, the company’s stock got a little boost, but not all stockholders are celebrating yet as there are many changes and improvements that still are needed for Qsymia to become successful.

The green light is only the beginning for Belviq and Qsymia, the manufacturers are still expected to perform long-term trials to look into the risk of heart attacks and strokes that may be caused by taking these products. There are no plans for Belviq to be marketed in Europe after the European Medicines Agency pointed out the potential cardiovascular risks and tumours. So for now the diet drugs remain in the US but hopefully after more trials they will soon be available in the UK.

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