While several drugs are available for short-term weight loss, until Wednesday there was only one FDA-approved prescription drug for long-term weight loss: Xenical from Roche, which is seldom prescribed because of unpleasant digestive side effects and modest weight loss. Belviq is the first new prescription drug approved to treat obesity since Xenical’s approval 13 years ago.
Other safety failures for diet pills have continued to pile up in recent years.
Four years ago Sanofi-Aventis SA discontinued studies of its highly anticipated pill Acomplia due to psychiatric side effects, including depression and suicidal thoughts. In 2010, Abbott Laboratories withdrew its drug Meridia after a study showed it increased heart attack and stroke.