Doctors will soon be able to prescribe miracle slimming pill Belviq to patients after the drug passed official tests with flying colours.
The drug – also known as lorcaserin – is a weight-loss medication that fools the brain into thinking the stomach is full by targeting hunger receptors.
The team behind the discovery claim they have no idea how the drug works but can show remarkable weight-loss in thousands of patients from clinical tests.
Some doctors were worried that the drug comes with significant side-effects that could impact the heart.
But in the last round of tests covering 12,000 patients around the world, these fears were found to be false and regulators are ready to green light the pills for prescription and sale.
No heightened risk of heart problems
Researchers tracked reactions to taking the drug for three years and found no heightened risk of heart attack, stroke or any type of heart problem in test subjects.
“For now, the drug may best be used on a cautious basis according to the needs of individual patients,” according to Dr Julie Ingelfinger and Dr Clifford Rosen of Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, who reported the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“As in other reports on its use, the side effects of headache, fatigue, dizziness, diarrhoea and nausea let to twice the number of discontinuations in the lorcaserin group as in the placebo group, although the total rates of discontinuation were similar in the two groups,”
A course of the drug costs $280 a month.
Holy grail for drug companies
Although several promising weight-loss medications have reached the test stage, all were pulled after patients developed adverse cardiovascular conditions.
The slimming pill is considered a ‘holy grail’ for pharmaceutical companies as growing numbers of patents struggle to control obesity and related illnesses.
In the USA, around 40% of the population fail obesity tests.
Everyone taking Belviq in the study was over weight and suffered from cardiovascular conditions or were at risk from heart disease.
Over the term of the tests, each participant lost an average 5% of bodyweight – equivalent to 10.5 lbs for a man weighing in at 15 stone (210 lbs)