Quick Hits: Weight-Loss Drug and Heart Risks, Fish Oil Pills and CV Risk & More

Quick Hits: Transvaginal Mesh Pulled, New Weight Loss Drug & More

A weight-loss drug is effective at helping people lose weight but also doesn’t increase their risk for heart problems,a first for a weight-loss medicine. The drug, Belviq (lorcaserin), didn’t lower the risk for cardiovascular events either. Researchers looked at 12,000 overweight or obese people. Half were given Belviq and the other half a placebo. Participants were followed for an average of around 3 years. Over that time, 6.1% of those on Belviq experienced a major heart problem, compared to 6.2% of those on placebo. Results also showed that after a year, patients on Belviq — who also received education on diet and exercise – lost an average of 9.3 pounds compared to 3 pounds for those on placebo. Other weight loss meds have been associated with serious side effects, notably fen-phen (fenfluramine/phentermine), which caused pulmonary hypertension and heart valve issues. The study was funded by Eisai, the manufacturer of Belviq. Posted August 26, 2018. Via New England Journal of Medicine.

Fish oil pills do not help to prevent cardiovascular problems in people with diabetes, according to a new study. People with diabetes were randomized and given 1 of 4 treatments: fish oil and aspirin, fish oil and placebo, aspirin and placebo fish oil (olive oil); or 2 placebos. Participants were followed for an average of 7.5 years. Overall, 8.9% of those who took a fish oil supplement had a serious cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, compared to 9.2% of those given the fish oil placebo, a different not considered statistically significant. During the study, 9.7% in the fish oil group died, compared to 10.2% taking the olive oil placebo, also statistically about the same. Posted August 26, 2018. Via New England Journal of Medicine.

The FDA has issued warning letters to 4 companies operating 21 websites for illegally selling unapproved and misbranded versions of opioid drugs. The move comes on the heels of warning letters sent to 9 other companies operating website selling opioids illegally earlier this summer. The agency says that the opioids for sale on the sites may be counterfeit, contaminated or expired, and illegal online pharmacies can pose other non-health risks such as credit card fraud and identity theft. The letters ask the companies to stop sales of the opioids on their sites immediately. Posted August 28, 2018. Via FDA.


Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is an associate editor at BioCentury, which provides news and information about the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Prior to joining BioCentury in 2019, Jonathan worked for MedShadow as content editor. He has been an editor and writer for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He holds a BA from Tufts University and is earning an MPH with a focus on health policy from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.


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