In June 2013, a new weight loss drug became available in the United States. After gaining U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 2012, Arena Pharmaceuticals and later Eisai, Inc. began marketing and distributing Belviq® and Belviq XR to help people who are obese or overweight with at least one weight-related medical condition lose weight.
The active ingredient in Belviq, lorcaserin, alters chemicals in the brain to make a person feel full. This medication was designed to be used together with diet and exercise to help people lose weight.
At the time of FDA approval, the pharmaceutical company agreed to conduct a long-term study about any potential cardiovascular risks from Belviq use. While the study of more than 12,000 adults in eight countries over five years did not reveal a significant cardiovascular risk, it did uncover another risk that led to FDA action and Esai’s voluntary withdrawal of Belviq from the U.S. market.
Belviq Linked to Increased Risk of Cancer
The large-scale international study conducted to look for a possible cardiovascular risk found that people who took Belviq or Belviq XR had an increased risk of developing cancer. Specifically, the study found that 7.7% of people who took Belviq were diagnosed with cancer, while only 7.1% of the people taking the placebo were diagnosed with cancer.
Many different types of cancers were diagnosed among people participating in the trial, including but not limited to:
- Colorectal cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Pancreatic Cancer
Accordingly, the FDA and Eisai took action in the winter of 2020.
FDA Action on Belviq
On January 14, 2020, the FDA issued a Drug Safety Communication about the increased risk of cancer from Belviq and Belviq XR.
The January 2020 Drug Safety Communication was updated on February 13, 2020, when the FDA issued a new Drug Safety Communication requesting the withdrawal of Belviq and Belviq XR from the market. According to the February 2020 Drug Safety Communication, the FDA:
- Found that the drug manufacturer’s study results indicated an increased risk of cancer among people who took Belviq compared to people who took a placebo
- Believes that the risks of taking lorcaserin products outweigh the benefits
- Advises people to stop taking Belviq and Belviq XR and to talk to their doctors about alternative weight loss options
- Does not recommend special cancer screenings for people who took Belviq
- Requests that health care providers stop prescribing and dispensing Belviq
- Urged patients and healthcare providers to report adverse side effects to the FDA
After the February 2020 Drug Safety Communication requesting the withdrawal of Belviq products, Eisai announced that it would voluntarily withdraw Belviq medications in the United States. While Eisai withdrew the product and stated its respect for the FDA, the company explained that it came to a different conclusion than the FDA did concerning the study results. According to Eisai, Belviq continues to have a positive benefit-risk profile for obese patients and patients who are overweight and have at least one weight-related medical condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
Do You Have a Belviq Cancer Case?
If you developed cancer or someone you loved died from cancer while taking Belviq, now is the time to learn more about your legal rights. You may have a case if you (or your loved one) took Belviq for six months or more and developed cancer within seven years of taking the medication.
Our experienced dangerous drug injury lawyers will review all of the evidence in your case and advise you of your legal rights. The truth is that not everyone who took Belviq and developed cancer will have a Belviq cancer lawsuit. However, we will provide you with an honest case evaluation so that you can decide whether to move forward with litigation.
The potential compensation in a Belviq cancer case may include past and future:
- Medical costs
- Lost income
- Physical pain
- Emotional suffering
- Other damages