Howard, Naomi and William have been on the new weight loss drug, Belviq for about three months now and have lost a combined 73 pounds.
They say it’s easy, hassle-free and effective.
“I feel wonderful. It's added years to my life,” said Howard. “I recommend it to anybody,” said Naomi. “I feel incredible,” said William. “I have so much energy.”
Doctor Steven Vig, who has an internal medicine practice in Tucson, says his patients taking the drug are thrilled.
“It really is kind of fun to prescribe this medicine,” Vig said. “You really see it in the eyes of the patients when they are losing weight. They love to do it. And, they love to report back to me and tell me how well they are doing.”
The Food and Drug Administration approved Belviq last year. But, manufacturers didn't put it on the market until June 11.
The drug is recommended for people who are obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it's estimated that 36 percent of Americans are obese. That means your body mass index or BMI is more than 30.
“The drug is not a fat burner. It simply lowers your appetite, decreases your cravings for food,” explained Vig.
While most diet drugs work as an appetite suppressant in your stomach, Belviq works as a suppressant in your brain.
“It is almost like a laser gun going to the appetite center of your brain,” Vig said.
“The medication just kills the appetite. In fact, I have to force myself sometimes to eat something,” said Howard.
Vig says he's only had a few patients reporting side effects. Some were tired.
But the biggest issue is the cost. A month’s supply is about $215 to $250 depending on the pharmacy you use. The manufacturer offers a $75 discount card.
Our patients tell us with the money they save by eating less, they break even, although they will eventually need to buy smaller clothes.
“I had a patient in this morning, in fact, who had difficulty losing weight,” said Vig. “She is now losing weight. Her clothes are looser, and she said, ‘Doctor, can I give you a hug?”
Weight Loss Results
At the three month mark, Howard has lost 31 pounds. He told us if he took his belt off, his pants would fall to the floor. He has a pile of clothes that are too big that he has to give to charity.
Naomi has lost 10 pounds. Her BMI is now below the obesity level of 30. She says she feels great every time she puts on clothes that haven't fit her in a while.
William has lost 32 pounds. He said, “Now I have the help I needed. It was so hard before because I had to overcome my cravings. Now, I don't have them.”
All three are meeting or exceeding the expected results that were found in the clinical trials.
Starting next month, Dr. Vig will be going around the country to teach doctors about Belviq. He will be paid by the manufacturer. It will most likely be a couple of days a month. He will continue to have his practice in Tucson.
“In my mind, this is a very safe and effective drug. I think as word gets out about this, more and more physicians are going to be using it,” he said.