(CBS News) A new long-term weight-loss drug will finally be available for patient use this week, nearly a year after receiving FDA approval. Belviq is the first new drug approved for weight loss in over a decade.
One of the key differences between Belviq and other weight-loss drugs or management aids is that it actually provides a feeling of satiety. The drug works on serotonin transmitters in the brain which causes this reaction and can actually make users feel like they are full and do not have to eat as much as they would without it.
CBS News medical contributor Dr. Holly Phillips said on "CBS This Morning: Saturday" that positive reaction from the drug is linked to satiety because when you "feel full, you eat less, and then we see the weight loss." She also said that it is not for anyone looking to lose weight; you have to fit into one of two categories.
"The first are people who are obese, which means that your body mass index is 30 or higher, and the second group is for people that are overweight but with one condition related to your weight," she said. "To be overweight your body mass index is 27 or higher, but you also have to have something related to your weight, whether it's high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes."
Philips said that the drug was considered to be effective, and people who took the drug lost around 3.7 percent of their body weight over the year. She also said that in studies the drug worked better in non-diabetics than people who already were diagnosed with that disease.
However, it is still considered a schedule four controlled substance, which means that, while it only has a low chance of becoming addictive, it can be, and there are serious side effects.
"This is not a miracle cure for obesity," said Phillips. "But we really have to look at it from a health perspective, where if you lose 5 percent of your body weight and you are obese, it can truly benefit you."