(File Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA -- For the first time in nearly a decade, the FDA approved a new drug for weight loss.
The Arena Pharmaceuticals drug, Belviq (lorcaserin) was shown to help users lose at least three percent of their body fat.
It works by blocking a specific receptor in the brain, making users feel full even after small amounts of food.
The announcement has sparked some debate. It's been 13 years since a weight loss drug hit the shelves, but some critics say, it's still too soon.
"It's going to make it a little easier for us to have a tool for chronic weight loss management for those individuals who are obese," said Dr. Derrick Cetin.
"The idea of having a diet drug that's just going to press the magic bullet we call hunger and not affect the rest of the body is just delusional." Dr. Sidney Wolfe said.
The FDA approved Belviq for obese adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. Overweight adults with a BMI of 27 can still qualify if they have at least one weight-related medical problem such as problem such as diabetes or high cholesterol.
Reported side effects include headaches, dizziness, nausea, dry mouth and constipation for non-diabetic patients.
Some diabetic patients reported low blood sugar, back pain, cough, and fatigue.
Belviq is expected to be available at the beginning of 2013. The FDA has ordered the manufacturer to run tests for risk factors like heart attack and stroke.