Belviq is a prescription brand name diet medication that is also known by its generic name Lorcaserin. Approved by the FDA in 2012 as a treatment for weight loss, Belviq was initially manufactured by Arena Pharmaceutical until it was sold to Eisai Inc., a Japanese pharmaceutical company, in 2016.
About Belviq and How it Works
This weight loss drug is prescribed by doctors and meant to be used with exercise, diet and behavioral changes to help aid in the loss of excess weight and help keep it off. It is typically prescribed to obese adults with a body mass index (BMI) ≥30 kg/m2 or adults with a BMI ≥27 kg/m2 who have excess weight and also have a weight-related medical problem (e.g. high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc.).
Lorcaserin is the active ingredient in Belviq. It works by affecting chemical signals in the brain responsible for controlling appetite. More specifically, it triggers serotonin, a neurotransmitter that generates feelings of fullness and satisfaction. Its primary function is to help you feel full when you consume smaller meals.
Belviq is an oral medication that should be taken exactly as it has been prescribed. Typically, the 10 mg tablets are meant to be taken twice per day. They can be taken with or without food. It is important to use this medication regularly and consistently to get the greatest benefit from it.
This means that you should try to take it around the same time every day for as long as it is prescribed. It also means that you should not alter the dose (increase and decrease) without first consulting with your doctor. One of the main reasons for this is that Lorcaserin can be habit forming. Increasing your dose or doubling up on it will only boost your risk of side effects. It will not help you to lose weight faster.
The Strongest Diet Pills Often Have Strong Side Effects
For a prescription weight loss medication, Belviq is one of the strongest diet pills. As such, it should come as no surprised that it can cause unwanted adverse effects. The most common side effects associated with this weight loss medication include:
- Dry mouth
More serious side effects may include:
- Mental or mood changes (e.g. depression, confusion, thoughts of suicide)
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Enlarged breasts or abnormal breast milk production
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeat
- Unexplained fever
- Swelling of the hands/ankles/feet
- Shaking, twitching, muscle spasms, etc.
Inform your doctor right away if you experience these or any other side effects not listed.
It should also be noted that individuals who take Belviq and who have diabetes may also be at risk of certain adverse effects such as fatigue, headaches, back pain, low blood sugar and cough.
Although Belviq may be helpful to some adults seeking weight loss and weight management, this medication may not be ideal or safe for everyone. As such, let your doctor know your full medical history. Inform him or her of any past or present medical conditions as well as if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or are nursing. You should also let them know about any medications or dietary supplements you may be taking to avoid the potential of negative drug interactions.
Update November 2020
As of February 13, 2020, Belviq has been voluntarily withdrawn from the market by Eisai at the request of the FDA. The obesity medication was withdrawn after a safety clinical trial revealed that taking lorcaserin may increase an occurrence of cancer.
That being said, it should be noted that it is not yet known if lorcaserin does increase the risk of cancer. Further investigation is required. Still, as a precaution, the drug has been withdrawn from the market and those who have been prescribed it have been advised to stop taking it and to return the remaining drugs to a drug take back location.
If you are someone who has recently stopped taking Belviq or have taken this drug in the past and you are concerned or have questions, it is recommended that you talk with your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider can not only address your concerns, they can also help you explore alternative weight loss medications and other weight management programs if necessary.