By MARILYNN MARCHIONE
AP Chief Medical Writer
For the first time, it has been shown that a drug can help people lose weight and keep it off for several years without increasing the risk of heart problems – a milestone for Safety can promote wider use to stem the obesity epidemic.
The Belviq drug has been sold in the United States since 2013 and is the first of several new weight loss drugs to be successful in a long-term cardiac safety study
"Patients and their doctors were nervous about using medication for treatment from obesity and for good reason.There is a history of these drugs with serious complications, "said study lead dr. Erin Bohula of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
With this study, Belviq was convincingly shown to be safe for the heart, she said.
Although Belviq did not raise heart risks, it did not reduce how many had I hope it would. The weight loss he produced was rather modest ̵
It may be that weight loss alone is not enough to reduce the risk of heart attack Some doctors would have to say
The results were discussed on Sunday at a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in Munich and published by the New England Journal of Medicine , Belvic's manufacturer, Eisai Inc., sponsored the study, and many of the researchers consult or work for the company.
Across the world, 13 percent of adults are overweight and 39 percent overweight, increasing their risk of a variety of health problems. Diet and exercise are the first steps that doctors recommend, but medications can also be considered for people with dangerously high weight who can not lose enough pounds in other ways.
Several popular diet medications were previously withdrawn from sale after they were found to be at risk for heart valve damage, suicidal thoughts or other issues, which provoked the new requirement for heart safety studies.
Belviq is an appetite suppressant that creates a sense of fullness by stimulating brain chemicals. It costs around $ 220 to $ 290 a month in the US.
Researchers tested it in a study of 12,000 people who were either overweight or overweight with risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure or cholesterol. They received Belviq or pills twice daily and offered lifestyle and nutritional advice.
After one year, 39 percent of Belviq and 17 percent of dummy pills had lost at least 5 percent of their initial weight. Several previous studies also found that the drug is effective for weight loss.
After about three years, 6 percent of each group had a heart problem or death.
Fewer people on Belviq developed diabetes – 8.5 percent versus 10.3 percent on dummy pills.
Serious side effects were similar, but more on Belviq stopped taking their pills because of them – 7 percent vs. 4 percent. Common side effects included dizziness, tiredness, headache and nausea.
In Belvig, 13 people had a dangerously low blood sugar level compared to four in the other group; all but one case also participated in diabetes medications that lower blood sugar.
Heart valve damage was studied in 3,270 participants, but no major differences in rates were noted. Suicidal thoughts or behaviors were reported in 21 people on Belviq versus 11 on sham drugs, but more about the drug had a history of depression and the difference was so small that it could be due to chance, Bohula said.
In a commentary, two of the magazine's editors, Drs. Julie Inglefinger and Clifford Rosen said that there could be alternatives to Belviq. Liraglutide, when used to treat diabetes, also causes weight loss and reduces heart risks, though it has not been tested for cardiac safety at the dose used for weight loss.
For now, Belviq "can best be used on a cautious basis, according to the needs of individual patients," they write.