As a society, we are obsessed with being thin. As a result of that obsession, everyone is trying to find the next big thing to drop a few pounds. In fact, in recent years, celebrities have jumped on that band wagon and are attempting to push whatever product they can, in order to make a few bucks. Is there actually a “magic” pill that will help you lose weight? As of this week, there might be. A Boston biotech company announced that they have received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to market a pill-based solution. They are saying that this could be the solution to the growing obesity epidemic in America.

The drug, known as Penity, is a proprietary blend of cellulose and citric acid. This combination, when swallowed, allows you to feel full faster. If you take this particular drug with a meal, it will reportedly expand in the stomach and small intestine, leaving less room for food. If this works as prescribed, it would leave people feeling full faster, and thus decreasing the amount of food consumed during meal time. The interesting thing about this drug is that it isn’t absorbed by the body, so it works within the body and then leaves safely.

While the science on this one seems sound, I am a skeptical person when it comes to “easy” solutions, so I definitely have some questions. The FDA has approved the pill based on evidence in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with more than 400 participants. Each participant had a BMI between 27 and 40, which put them into the “obese” category considered by the Center for Disease Control. The trial’s findings were significant, showing that patients who took Plenity for six months, in conjunction with diet and exercise, lost an average of 6.4 percent of their baseline weight. Meanwhile, the placebo-controlled group only lost 4.4 percent.

There it is. These folks lost 6.4 percent, but not just from the drug itself, they were also eating better and exercising. So how much of the weight loss can be attributed to the drug itself? I guess that’s why I’m a little skeptical. I want to believe that there is a drug out there that will make everyone thin. But the reality is a lot of hard work goes into losing weight and being a healthy person. I also wonder if a drug like this gives participants false hope? Like they will take this pill and they will magically be thin and as a result – happy?

Of the participants, 27 percent, lost 10 percent or more of their body weight, which was twice that of the control group. 60 percent of those that took Plenity lost more than five percent of their body weight. Don’t get me wrong, I think any weight loss is great. I just wonder if people are actually getting anything out of the drug, or if psychologically, they now have the confidence or the ability to execute a better weight loss plan?

Plenity will be classified as a Class 2 medical device, which means it will need a prescription. Genesis has indicated that they will offer a remote screening option, which will allow those interested in the drug to skip the visit to the doctor’s office, and participate in a remote screening instead. Plenity will be available en mass in 2020, but the company has plans to launch it in limited supply this year.