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FDA backs approval of new diet pill

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A panel of advisers to the Federal Food and Drug Administration have backed approval for the weight loss drug called Lorcaserin, but local doctors and exercise specialists are still skeptical of using drugs for weight loss.

If approved this could become the first weight loss drug to receive FDA approval in more than a decade.

The panel voted 18-4 on the approval saying its benefits outweigh the potential risks when used long term in overweight and obese people.

While some say this is good news for obese or overweight people, local doctors and trainers don't necessarily agree medicine is best the answer for obesity.

"I just think people aren't motivated it takes time.  It's easy to pop a pill and hopefully it's a magic pill and will help you loose weight," says Mike Opengari a personal trainer at the Gateway YWCA in Winston-Salem. 

Dr. William Satterwhite of Forsyth Medical Center also says, "everyone wants the magic pill. They still want to eat fast food all the time, still don't want to walk any,  don't want to do anything differently so let me take this medicine and everything will be ok and it's really not ok." 

Satterwhite says obesity drugs often don't get to the core of the problem. "Obesity is not a disease its a condition and you can change that condition," Satterwhite said.

While the FDA hopes to have a final decision on the drug by mid-summer, some say the eating right and exercise may still be the absolute best way to lose weight and keep it off without the risk of side effects.
"Evidently the FDA feels like with this medicine is touching the one part of the brain that tells you, 'oh don't be that hungry' and not touching anything else.  We'll just have to see if that plays out or not," Satterwhite said.

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