Belviq is a brand name prescription diet drug that contains the active ingredient, Lorcaserin, which was approved by the FDA in 2012 as an obesity treatment.

However, since February 2020, both Belviq and Belviq XR have been voluntarily withdrawn from the market by Eisai (a Japanese pharmaceutical company that purchased it from the original manufacturer, Arena Pharmaceuticals, back in 2016) at the request of the FDA. The FDA made the request after results of emerging data revealed that people who had taken the drug as part of a large clinical trial had experienced an increased occurrence of cancer five years following the trial.

Does Belviq Work for Weight Loss?

The short answer is yes. Belviq’s active ingredient, lorcaserin, works by affecting chemical signals in the brain that are responsible for controlling appetite. Essentially, this medication triggers the neurotransmitter serotonin, which generates feelings of fullness and satisfaction. The medication’s main function is to help a person feel full when they eat smaller meals.

Based on the initial studies that lead to the weight loss drug’s 2012 approval, obese and overweight study participants who took lorcaserin lost more weight than those who took a placebo.

Moreover, three years later, a subsequent study, was conducted on 12,000 people who were overweight or obese and had cardiovascular disease or risk factors for cardiovascular disease. This clinical trial showed that, compared to the placebo group, the subjects who took lorcaserin experienced greater weight loss and comparable rates of cardiovascular events. As such, the study was reassuring to those who were concerned about the drug from a cardiovascular safety perspective.

The Benefits Don’t Outweigh the Risks

While, like all obesity drugs, there’s certain risks associated with taking Belviq, such as common side effects like:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry Mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Headache

There are also more serious side effects like mental or mood changes, easy bruising or bleeding, etc. However, the real concern for this medication occurred when it was discovered that, five years after the massive subsequent clinical trial, study participants who had taken the drug had a slight increase in the occurrence of cancers (7.7%) compared to the placebo group (7.1%). Moreover, it was an increase in several different types of cancers, including lung, colorectal and pancreatic.

Presently, it is not yet known if lorcaserin does increase the risk of cancer. As a precaution, and until further research can be conducted, the drug has been taken off the market and those who were prescribed it have been advised to cease taking it.

Other Diet Pills That Work

Although Belviq may no longer be an option for you, if you are interested in taking a product to help support your weight management efforts, the good news is that that there are other and safer diet pills that work, both prescription and non-prescription, that may be worth discussing with your healthcare provider.