In November 2010, a new drug called tesamorelin (Egrifta) was approved by the FDA to treat excess deep belly fat in HIV-positive people. The drug is a synthetic human growth hormone releasing factor that stimulates the pituitary gland to make growth hormone. Although it may help some people trim down a portion of their deep belly or visceral fat found under the stomach muscles, it should not be viewed as a weight control product.
A 52-week study followed 816 people: 2/3 started on tesamorelin while the other 1/3 used placebo. At 24 weeks, everyone on placebo was switched to tesamorelin while half the original tesamorelin group continued on the drug as the other half went on placebo. At the end of the study, people who took tesamorelin for the full 52 weeks showed 18% less deep belly fat than placebo.
Some people may find using tesamorelin difficult. First, it's injected once a day into the stomach below the belly button. Second, once the drug is stopped, the belly fat returns within a few months. And, the mixing process before injection can be confusing.
EMD Serono, who makes tesamorelin, helps with this by offering patients a one-on-one injection trainer to show how to mix the drug and inject it properly. The cost is high as well, though the company has both a patient assistance program and co-pay program to help with drug costs. Call 877-714-2947 for details, or go to Egrifta.
For more information on tesamorelin, read Project Inform's publication.