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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US has approved a new obesity medication, after studies have shown that it can help patients to lose 5% of their body weight on average. It is said to do this by making you feel fuller after eating smaller amounts of food.

Belviq (lorcaserin hydrochloride), manufactured by Swiss pharmaceutical company Arena, is the first weigh-loss medication to be approved by the FDA in over ten years, since the approval of Xenical (orlistat) in 1999. Although the two weight loss medications are available to buy in the US, they will be prescribed only to people who are classed as obese or overweight and at risk of suffering from weight-related conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or type 2 diabetes.

What are the benefits?

Belviq has been proven in clinical studies to help reduce body weight when combined with dietary changes and regular exercise. Following health concerns with previous weight loss medications, the FDA has set increasingly high regulatory standards, meaning that Belviq is clinically proven to be safe and effective.

With obesity levels rising and a number of conditions being diagnosed as a result, this medication could markedly improve quality of life by helping obese people to lose 5% of their body fat and reduce their risks of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, increasing life expectancy.

How does it work?

The active ingredient in Belviq is lorcaserin hydrochloride, which activates the serotonin 2C receptor, a type of 5-HT2C receptor which influences feelings of hunger and satiety. Patients who take Belviq will feel fuller after a smaller meal, meaning that their calorie intake is reduced. This therefore leads to weight loss.

Who can take it?

Belviq is prescribed to people with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. Some people with a BMI of between 27 and 30 may also be prescribed the treatment if they are at risk of suffering from a weight-related condition such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Who cannot take Belviq?

Anyone with a BMI of under 27 will not be prescribed the medication. You can calculate your BMI by visiting our BMI calculator tool if you know your exact height and weight. Your doctor will also be able to tell you what your BMI is.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding or people under the age of 18 should not take the medication. It is also contraindicated for people who are taking certain antidepressants or medication for valvular heart disease. People with psychiatric disorders, priapism, low blood pressure or pulmonary hypertension may also be advised against taking Belviq.

How do you take it?

Belviq is dispensed in blue film-coated tablets in a dosage of 10mg and should be taken twice daily with or without food. This dosage should not be exceeded and if after 12 weeks the patient has not lost 5% of body fat, they will be advised to discontinue treatment with Belviq as it is unlikely to become effective in the future.

What are the side effects?

As with all prescription medications, Belviq carries some risk of side effects. Some of the more common reactions for non-diabetic patients include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea or constipation. People who are taking insulin for type 2 diabetes may also suffer from hypoglycaemia, a slight cough or back pain.

Can I buy Belviq online?

Although Belviq has been approved by the FDA in the US, it has not been approved for sale in Europe and is not expected to be available until 2013. The only prescription weight loss medication currently available to buy online is Xenical, which can be purchased at euroClinix after filling in a free online consultation with one of our doctors.

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