FDA Orders Recall of Diet Drug Belviq Over Cancer Risk
The weight loss drug Belviq XR (lorcaserin) was recalled by its manufacturer in February 2020 after a study found that the drug may be linked to an increased risk of developing cancer. Patients who used Belviq and were diagnosed with cancer — including pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, and lung cancer — may qualify to file a lawsuit.
What is Belviq?
Belviq (lorcaserin) is a prescription weight loss drug that was approved by the FDA in 2012. The drug is prescribed both in its normal formulation, Belviq, and as an extended-release tablet, Belviq XR.
Belviq is designed to help patients who are obese or who suffer from obesity-related health problems to lose weight. The drug works by targeting the body’s serotonin 2C receptors, to make patients feel more full and reduce their appetite. Belviq is designed to be taken in combination with a low-calorie diet and increased exercise to help facilitate weight loss.
Belviq was the first prescription weight loss drug to be approved by the FDA since Fen Phen and Redux were recalled by the agency in 1997. Both of these drugs — which combined the medications fenfluramine and phentermine — were recalled after they were linked to an increased risk of serious heart problems.
Does Belviq cause cancer?
When the FDA approved Belviq in 2012, the agency ordered its manufacturer, Eisai Inc., to conduct a safety trial. After the serious health problems that were associated with Fen Phen and Redux, the agency wanted to make sure that patients taking Belviq did not face any cardiovascular dangers.
The safety trial for Belviq that was conducted by Eisai found that patients taking the weight loss drug were more likely to be diagnosed with cancer. Patients taking Belviq in the study were diagnosed with several types of cancers, including pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, and lung cancer.
In fact, the FDA had raised concerns about the cancer risk of Belviq even before the drug was eventually approved. The FDA had originally rejected Belviq for approval in 2010 after studies showed that the drug was linked to an increased risk of brain cancer and breast cancer in laboratory rodents. However, after the manufacturer was able to convince the FDA that these cancers were specific to rodents and not likely to reoccur in humans, the drug was approved by the FDA.
Why was Belviq recalled?
Eisai submitted a request to the FDA to voluntarily recall Belviq based on the results of its clinical trial, which showed that Belviq was associated with an increased cancer risk.
In February 2020, an FDA press release announcing the recall advised patients to dispose of unused Belviq at a drug take back location or in their household trash, and to talk with their health care provider about alternative weight loss treatments. The FDA also advised doctors to stop prescribing Belviq to patients due to the increased cancer risk associated with the drug.
When it announced that Belviq was being recalled, the FDA did not call for special cancer screenings for patients who had taken the drug. However, the agency advised patients who used Belviq to talk with their doctor if they have questions about the cancer risks associated with the drug.
Do I qualify to file a lawsuit?
If you were prescribed Belviq XR (lorcaserin) for weight loss, used the drug for at least three months, and have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, or other types of cancer, you may qualify to file a lawsuit. The first step in taking legal action is to speak with an experienced pharmaceutical liability attorney to learn more about your legal rights.
The lawyers at Hissey, Mulderig & Friend have represented thousands of patients across the U.S. who have been harmed by dangerous drugs, unsafe commercial products, or defective medical devices. At Hissey, Mulderig & Friend, we believe that all citizens are entitled to outstanding legal representation to ensure that their legal rights are fully protected.
For more information about whether you may be eligible to file a Belviq lawsuit, contact the lawyers at Hissey, Mulderig & Friend for a free legal consultation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-866-210-5686, or by following this link to our free online case evaluation form on the right side of this page.