A scientist at University of Texas Medical Branch Kathryn Cunningham has conducted a research on weight loss pills and their effects on the body and has found that these pills reduce the motivation to use oxycodone, an opiate along with affecting the weight loss. It is considered as abuse in medical circles and a major risk to public health with a potential to lead many deaths if not taken care of. The people who misuse opiate prescriptions such as oxycodone for long period of time, particularly an illegal opiate like heroin do not remain in consideration of US centre for Disease Control and Prevention. This study was published in ACS Chemical Neuroscience.

There are some common treatments that can reduce the effects of these opiates like heroin such as by using opioid receptors in the brain. If the patient had taken a dose while getting treatment, the symptoms of euphoria would not be much severe. But the environment-friendly drug taking is a strong cue that prevents people from taking such doses and process is known as cue reactivity.

Lorcaserin, an opioid is often prescribed for weight loss that changes the serotonin system by altering chemical signals that directly affect satiety. It maintains the brain functioning involved in drug reward and process of cue reactivity and the primary receptor is called Serotonin 2C receptors. Previously, Cunningham has conducted the study on rats and found that lorcaserin decreases many folds so rats can complete their task to earn cocaine dosage. But still, there is very limited research on cue reactivity, these receptors and their eventual benefits.

The researchers used rats for conducting their study and train them to self-administer their oxycodone exposing them to certain light and sound effects so that drug taking environment can be created for them. When rats set to use oxycodone regularly in the specific environment, they were passed through a phase where no oxycodone was provided but drug taking environment. Instead, they were given lorcaserin and some were given a placebo. In the result, they reacted less and managed to live and cancel the effects of what they had already taken.

Dr Cunningham further says that effects of lorcaserin reduce oxycodone to seek therapeutic potential for lorcaserin in a disorder of using opioid. She further plans to extend her study to reduce addiction from America and switching these pill usage from weight loss treatment to another social and health cause.