FDA approves third weight-loss drug

Published: July, 2012

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a new drug, lorcaserin (Lorqess), for weight loss in people who are so heavy that it poses a risk to their heart—those with a body mass index of 30 and higher, or 27 and higher with a major risk factor, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Lorcaserin is the third weight-loss medication available to people who cannot lose enough weight with diet and exercise alone (see page 4 of last June 2011 Harvard Heart Letter).

Lorcaserin reduces appetite by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. It is in the same class of medications as dexfenfluramine (Redux) and fenfluramine (Fen-Phen), which were taken off the market after reports of heart-valve damage surfaced. Sibutramine (Meridia) was withdrawn after it was connected with heart attacks and strokes in people with cardiovascular disease. None of these problems have yet been seen in clinical trials of lorcaserin.

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