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FDA Approves Plenity, New Gel To Aid In Weight Loss

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - A powerful new tool in the battle of the bulge has just been approved by the FDA.

The new capsule is swallowed like a pill, but it's not a drug, it's a gel to make people feel full, reports CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez.

The latest numbers show that about two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese.

Over the years there have been a number of weight loss drugs, and while most work to some degree, like all drugs they also have side effects.

Like so many people, Suzie Soto has been on a weight loss see-saw for years.

"I've tried pills," she said. "A multitude amount of diet, shakes, everything else and just nothing worked."

Now there's a new option for the millions like Soto trying to lose weight, capsules called Plenity.

Dr. Louis Aronne, renowned obesity researcher at New York Presyterian Weill Cornell, conducted some of the clinical trials on Plenity and says they're actually considered a powerful new weight loss technology.

"This opens up a whole new medical treatment to a huge new group of patients," he said.

The FDA has approved Plenity for anyone with a body mass index, or BMI, of 25 to 40. You only have to be 10 or 15 pounds over ideal to qualify.

Once you swallow the capsules, they absorb 100 times their weight in water, forming a soft gel in the stomach.

Because of the unique molecular structure of the gel, it also binds and integrates with food, slowing its absorption.

This gel-food complex takes up about a quarter of the average stomach. Because the gel isn't metabolized or absorbed, it has no more side effects than placebo, but it has a dual effect for weight loss.

"It makes you feel full sooner but by slowing down the absorption of calories, it has a damping effect on appetite beyond its filling effect," said Aronne.

In clinical trials, volunteers lost an average of 6.5 percent of their body weight, but most actually lost 10-percent, including diabetics and pre-diabetics most at risk for weight health issues.

Plenity won't actually be available until late this year. The cost and insurance coverage, hasn't been determined.

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