FDA approves new drug for weight loss

The FDA’s approval of lorcaserin received heavy coverage, appearing on all three major news broadcasts and coverage in major national newspapers. Coverage focused on it being the first weight-loss medication approved since 1999 and on safety concerns.

NBC Nightly News reported, “For the first time in over a decade, the FDA has approved a new diet drug. It’s meant to help people who are obese and suffering from additional health problems related to their weight, but there are critics who are questioning whether this new pill is really safe.”

NBC News correspondent Robert Bazell added, “The drug to be sold as Belviq [lorcaserin] has provided only modest weight lost,” with those in clinical trials averaging a loss of “3% more than those on placebo after one year.”

Still, “the FDA decided the benefit was worth” approving and “many weight loss doctors agreed.”

Citing concerns about possible effects on the heart, “some consumer advocates say the FDA is making a big mistake.”

ABC World News reported, “The FDA has approved a new weight loss drug,” that “activates a receptor in the brain which makes you feel full. The average weight lost: seventeen to 18 pounds, and those who took the drug say improvements in blood pressure and cholesterol.”

The CBS Evening News reported, “The Food and Drug Administration today approved the first new diet drug in more than a decade. This country is fighting a so far losing battle against obesity.” CBS News (Doane) added, “The drug, which will be marketed as Belviq, works by fooling the brain so patients feel fuller sooner.”

The AP reports, “Despite only achieving modest weight loss in clinical studies, the drug appeared safe enough to win the FDA’s endorsement, amid calls from doctors for new weight-loss treatments.”

The FDA “cleared the pill … for adults who are obese or are overweight with at least one medical complication, such as diabetes or high cholesterol.”

The Wall Street Journal adds that the Drug Enforcement Administration must develop a rule as the FDA had concluded there was some danger of abuse.

Bloomberg News points that the DEA’s “decision may take four to six months,” and “the FDA recommended Belviq be classified among the fourth class of drugs of a five-tiered system,” in which there are no “restrictions on samples, advertising or automatic refills. The primary requirement is keeping better records, Arena’s executives said.”

On the front of its Business Day section, the New York Times reports, “Now the question is whether people will use it,” because “diet drugs have not sold well in the past, in part because people tend to use them for only a short time.”

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