Despite known heart risks, the FDA has approved an experimental new ‘anti-obesity’ drug known as Belviq (generic: lorcaserin). The first new diet drug to be released in more than 10 years, Belviq has been compared by many to Fen Phen, a notorious medication that was recalled in the 1990s after it was found to cause heart valve damage, persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPH), and death.
What’s the Problem with Belviq?
With more than 30% of all Americans being obese or overweight, the market for ‘miracle’ diet pills is an extremely profitable one. Many people who are unhappy with their appearance are looking for a quick fix to change their lives. Unfortunately, no such quick fix exists, and users of the new diet drug Belviq (lorcaserin) face a risk of developing severe heart valve damage and other serious, potentially life-threatening side effects.
Belviq is designed to work by manipulating brain chemicals that control appetite. The medicine is intended to be used in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise to treat obesity caused by diabetes, high cholesterol, or elevated blood pressure levels. Specifically, Belviq acts on the serotonin 2c receptor of the brain that influences appetite. Lorcaserin was cleared for sale on the U.S. market in June 2012.
Belviq Side Effects
Despite only being on the market for a little over a year, Belviq is chemically similar to other anti-obesity medications that have been pulled off the market due to health concerns. Potential serious side effects of Belviq may include:
- cardiovascular events
- heart attacks
- heart valve damage
- serotonin syndrome
- memory loss
Other, less serious Belviq side effects may include:
- allergic reactions
- unusual thoughts or behaviors
- feelings of extreme happiness or sadness
- feelings of standing next to yourself or being outside your body
- thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself
- rapid heart rate
- loss of coordination
- stiff muscles
- fast or uneven heart beats
- swelling in the hands or feet
- pale skin
- flu symptoms
- sores in the mouth or throat
- low blood sugar
- breast swelling or nipple discharge
- penis erection lasting more than four hours
Individuals at an increased risk for developing serious side effects from Belviq include those suffering from:
- congestive heart failure
- a heart valve disorder
- sickle cell anemia
- leukemia or myeloma
- kidney or liver disease
- a physical deformity of the penis (such as Peyronie’s disease)
Belviq is currently classified as a Pregnancy Category X medication, which means that there is evidence of fetal abnormalities based on adverse reaction data. Belviq should only be used by pregnant women when the potential benefits of the drug are greater than its risks.