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Pill that lets you drop a dress size by suppressing appetite set to hit Britain later this year… and a version for children could be on its way too
American company wants to sell lorcaserin or Belviq in UK and EuropeStudy showed dieters lost an average of 8 per cent body weight after a yearTrials for obese children would begin one year after it went on market
Fiona Macrae Science Correspondent
02:02 GMT, 2 January 2013
02:02 GMT, 2 January 2013
A ‘drop-a-dress-size’ diet pill could be on sale within months – and the first weight loss drug for children could follow.
An American company has applied for permission to sell lorcaserin under the brand name Belviq to adults in the UK and Europe.
If given on the green light, it wants to produce a children’s version.
The manufacturers of Lorcaserin that will be sold under the name Belviq if it gets the green light
Given to boys and girls as young as six – the twice-a-day drug, which acts on the brain to curb appetite – could be a flavoured syrup, a chewy pill or a tablet that dissolves in the mouth.
The creation of paediatric formulations of new medicines is now required by law.
But the idea that children could be fed drugs which act on the brain to make them lose weight has horrified experts.
Dr Ian Campbell, a GP and medical
director of charity Weight Concern, said: ‘My immediate reaction is that
I shudder to even contemplate it.’
Tam Fry, of the Child Growth Foundation, described medicating obesity in children as ‘playing with fire’.
In a study of 7,000 people, dieters who took the pill for a year lost an average of 8 per cent and in extreme cases up to 40 per cent.
Some dieters suffered side-effects including headaches for a fortnight, dizziness or nausea but the drug appeared free of the cardiac and psychiatric problems that caused other drugs to be pulled from the shelves.
Lorcaserin, which is taken before breakfast and dinner, affects the way the brain uses serotonin, which regulates appetite, making those who take it feel less hungry.
Overweight: One third of 11-year-olds are too fat and drug manufacturers said it would only be used for obese children
The drug’s Californian manufacturer, Arena, has applied for permission to sell it to adults in Europe and hopes to get the green light in the first half of 2013 and could go on sale shortly afterwards.
In line with EU regulations, Arena has drawn up plans for a paediatric version of lorcaserin for six to 18-year-olds.
In recent years, companies seeking a licence for a new drug, have been required to also do tests on children.
Medicines for diseases that do not affect youngsters, such as Alzheimer’s, and treatments that would obviously be dangerous, are exempt but most others have to go through the process.
Trials of Belviq children will not begin until the drug has been on sale for at least a year and wide-scale use on youngsters is still at least five years away.
Craig Audet, Arena’s senior vice president, stressed the drug would be for obese children and teenagers, not those who are merely overweight.
He said: ‘When obese children go through puberty, it is almost impossible for them to lose weight. That’s why treating children at a younger age may make sense if diet and exercise alone don’t work.’
Latest figures show that than a third of 11-year-olds are too fat and the numbers are continuing to grow.