A new diet drug went on the market Tuesday. It’s expensive and has to be taken the rest of the patient’s life to continue to work. It comes with a long list of possible side effects, including common ones such as dizziness, fatigue and constipation, or rare ones such as hallucinations or memory loss. On average, it doesn’t have much effect on a person’s weight.
So what is there to love about Belviq? Doctors have been clamoring for another “tool” they can use in the fight against obesity, and if Belviq, which suppresses appetite, is only a lightweight hammer of a tool, even those are of use to some people. In a study, the average weight loss over the course of a year using Belviq was 3.7% more of a person’s total body weight than the patients on placebo. That’s very small: less than 10 pounds lost by a 250-pound person. That sort of loss could be easily achieved by mild changes in eating and exercise habits. But some people experienced greater weight loss and no side effects. For them, it could be worth the price.
And price is not a minor issue. Belviq reportedly is sold wholesale to pharmacies for $200 a month (it's unclear how much of that will be covered by insurance) and, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, patients who start on it need to take it for life — or as long as they want the pounds to stay off. Without Belviq, the appetite and the weight return.