Skip to content

Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Diet Drug Lorcaserin Safe, Effective, Study Finds

Half of Dieters Lost 5% of Their Body Weight in a Year
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

July 14, 2010 -- An experimental weight loss drug that targets the brain’s hunger center was shown to be safe and effective for helping dieters shed pounds in a two-year study, researchers say.

The drug lorcaserin works on the serotonin receptor -- the same appetite-controlling hormone targeted by the notorious drug fenfluramine, the "fen" component of combination medication fen-phen. Fenfluramine was taken off the market in 1997 after being linked to potentially life-threatening heart valve problems.

But lorcaserin is far more selective than the drug fenfluramine and much safer, its manufacturer says, because it specifically targets the serotonin receptor associated with hunger while having no impact on the heart.

Half Lost 5% of Body Weight

About half the dieters who took lorcaserin for a year in the study lost at least 5% of their body weight, compared to 20% of dieters who took a placebo pill. About one in five lorcaserin users lost 10% or more of their body weight, compared to one out of 14 placebo users.

People who continued on the drug for two years were able to maintain their weight loss better than those switched to placebo after one year, researcher Steven R. Smith, MD, of the Florida Hospital and the Sanford-Burnham Institute tells WebMD.

He says that all the patients in the study were monitored closely for heart valve irregularities, and no difference was seen in the two treatment groups.

The study appears in the July 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

It was funded by Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which developed lorcaserin. The company hopes to win FDA approval to market the new drug later this year.

Today on WebMD

measuring waist
4 tips for shedding yours.
apple cider vinegar
Does it have health benefits?
 
Chocolate truffle
For weight loss, some aren’t so bad after all.
woman holding red dress
24 simple, practical tips.
 
woman shopping fresh produce
Video
butter curl on knife
Quiz
 
eating out healthy
Article
Smiling woman, red hair
Article
 
thumbnail_woman_tossing_spinach
Video
lunchbox
Article
 
What Girls Need To Know About Eating Disorders
Article
fat caliper
Tool
 

Special Sections