Since the FDA recently approved the diet pill Belviq, the move has some questioning if this medication will be viewed as a safer alternative diet pill than Qnexa, which contains Topamax (topamirate).

Belviq is viewed as the first FDA-approved diet drug to hit the market in 10 years. Qnexa was recommended for approval, too — that is, until the drug’s main active ingredients started causing controversy. That controversy was over Phentermine’s links to the now banned Fen-Phen diet pills (which caused heart attacks) and Topamax, which is linked to birth defects in babies whose mothers take the drug while pregnant. The anti-seizure drug causes birth defects such as cleft palate, spina bifida and heart, lung and brain defects. All of these side effects have caused the FDA to re-examine Qnexa for market inclusion.

As for Belviq, Obesity Society President Patrick O’Neil, who teaches at the Medical University of South Carolina, has stated that he is encouraged by the approval of the drug.

“This is good news because it tells us that the FDA is indeed treating obesity seriously,” he said. “On the other hand, it’s not the answer to the problem — or even a big part of the answer.”

Many people believe that Belviq is going to be a huge first step in the creation of new medications that will help doctors find out what the underlying causes of obesity are.

“The way these things tend to work is you have some people who do extremely well and other people don’t lose any weight at all. But if we had 10 medicines that were all different and worked like this, we would have a real field,” said Dr. Louis Aronne, director of the weight loss program at Weill-Cornell Medical College.

For now, there is no-long term prognosis for the side effects that will be linked to Belviq, but it is hoped that the drug will be safer than Topamax. While only time will tell the true safety of Belviq, at least for now the drug looks to be safer than Topamax-based Qnexa.