A weight-loss pill has been hailed as a potential “holy grail” in the fight against obesity after a major study showed it did not increase the risk of serious heart problems.
Researchers say lorcaserin is the first weight-loss drug to be deemed safe for heart health with long-term use, which could see regulators approve it for prescription on the UK’s NHS. Taken twice a day, the drug is an appetite suppressant which works by stimulating brain chemicals to induce a feeling of fullness.
A US study saw 12,000 people who were either obese or overweight given the pills or a placebo – with those who took the drug shedding an average of nine pounds in 40 months. Further analysis showed no big differences in tests for heart valve damage.
I think it is the thing everybody has been looking for
Tam Fry, National Obesity Forum
Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said the drug is potentially the “holy grail” of weight-loss medicine.
“I think it is the thing everybody has been looking for,” he told the Press Association.
“I think there will be several holy grails, but this is a holy grail and one which has been certainly at the back of the mind of a lot of specialists for a long time.”
“But all of the other things apply – lifestyle change has got to be root and branch part of this.”
Professor Jason Halford, an obesity expert at the University of Liverpool, told the Daily Telegraph that the drug’s availability in the UK depends on whether it is approved by NHS regulators.
“We don’t have any appetite suppressants available on the NHS. We have a massive great gap between lifestyle modification and surgery,” he said.
“At the moment you either get support and advice, or you get to surgery – there is nothing in between.
“This could be widely prescribed if it is approved by Nice (the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence) in the UK.”