A prescription that’s supposed to help manage your weight should not worsen your overall health. But concerns that weight-loss drugs Belviq® and the extended-release version, Belviq XR®, may cause an increased risk of cancer prompted manufacturer Eisai to voluntarily withdraw them from the U.S. market in February 2020. These prescription weight-loss drugs are marketed as a way to help patients struggling with obesity feel full while on reduced-calorie diets. In 2012, the FDA approved the drug, but required Eisai to complete a clinical trial to assess the safety and efficacy of the drug.
Amidst concerns announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that the medication is possibly linked to an increased occurrence of cancer, in early 2020 Belviq (lorcaserin) was voluntarily recalled from the US market by its’ maker Eisai Inc. The decision came after the analysis of results retrieved from a long-term study conducted after Belviq hit the market, in order to determine the cardiovascular effects of the drug.
What the study revealed was that patients taking Belviq were more likely to develop cancer over the course of five years, than participants taking a placebo. Certain types of cancer, including pancreatic, colorectal and lung cancers, were more commonly diagnosed in Belviq-users. Patients and their families who developed cancer after taking Belviq, are now suing the drug’s manufacturer for failing to adequately warn consumers of the drug’s safety risks.
Belviq (aka lorcaserin) is a weight loss drug used to treat obesity or to help those who are overweight – possibly due to diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure – lose weight and keep the weight off. It is intended to be used in conjunction with healthy eating (reduced calorie intake) and exercise.
Belviq belongs to a class of drugs called serotonin receptor agonists. It activates chemical signals in the brain that control appetite thereby working to make you feel full and eat less food.
The medication is taken by mouth in tablet form. It is also available in an extended release form—meaning it has longer-acting effects rather than fast-acting.
Belviq does not treat underlying health conditions that might be contributing to weight gain—it simply aids in weight loss. Patients taking lorcaserin might require additional treatment for underlying medical problems.
Lorcaserin can be habit-forming. You should not stop taking the weight loss drug without first speaking with your doctor.
Clinical trials revealed an exhaustive list of side effects in people taking Belviq. Some of these side effects are mild while others are serious or even deadly. Adverse reactions also varied slightly between patients with diabetes and non-diabetic patients.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the federal agency tasked with the review, approval and continued monitoring of medicines. Patients and health care providers can report all adverse reactions, side effects or symptoms to the FDA for the agency’s knowledge and insight.
Future testing and trials may become necessary as patients show a persistent pattern of related problems linked to medication-use. Sometimes, this can lead to the discontinuation or recall of products—such as Belviq—that are found to be dangerous despite previously being made available to patients.
Common side effects of Belviq include:
Diabetic patients taking Belviq were more likely to suffer from very low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), headache, back pain, cough and fatigue, while those without diabetes suffered more frequently from headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, dry mouth and constipation.
Belviq is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) because people taking the drug can become dependent on it. Patients who overdosed on the weight loss medication experienced the following symptoms:
Other more serious or sometimes life-threatening side effects of Belviq include:
Taking Belviq with other drugs that affect serotonin receptors in the brain—such as certain antidepressant or psychotropic medications—should be done with extreme caution. Anyone who is pregnant should not take Belviq. Weight loss is not recommended during pregnancy.
On January 14, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) alerted the public that Belviq might be linked to a possible increased risk of cancer. The agency came to this conclusion after reviewing the results of a clinical trial conducted by Belviq’s manufacturer Eisai Inc. as postmarket research to further assess the safety of the weight loss medicine.
When the FDA approved Belviq (lorcaserin) in 2012, it required the drug manufacturer to conduct a clinical trial to further evaluate the risk of cardiovascular problems associated with the medication. In January 2020, the federal agency announced it was reviewing the data from that trial and that it found a possible risk of cancer in connection with lorcaserin based on its’ preliminary analysis.
After the FDA’s initial alert in January 2020, requesting that Eisai voluntarily withdraw the weight loss drug from the US market, a follow-up communication published on February 13, 2020, confirmed that Belviq’s manufacturer submitted a request to voluntarily withdraw the medication. The federal drug safety agency stated: “We are taking this action because we believe that the risks of lorcaserin outweigh its benefits based on our completed review of results from a randomized clinical trial assessing safety.”
The trial the FDA relied on included 12,000 participants and took place over 5 years. Belviq has been on the market for just over 7 years, showing a gap between the drug’s approval date and Eisai’s initiation of the required postmarket study that the weight loss medication’s approval was contingent on.
Results from the study showed that 7.7 percent (n=462) of patients taking Belviq were diagnosed with cancer compared to 7.1 percent (n=4232) of trial participants taking a placebo. Patients taking Belviq who were diagnosed with cancer, were more frequently diagnosed with pancreatic, colorectal and lung cancers. Short-term use of the drug did not show any significant changes in a person’s cancer risk. But the longer the course of treatment with the weight loss medication, the higher a person’s risk was of developing the potentially deadly disease.
The FDA previously denied approval of Belviq in 2010, due to several cited clinical and non-clinical discrepancies regarding the overall safety and efficacy of the weight loss drug.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis after struggling with another health concern for so long can take a toll on a person, and their family, as well. Patients put their trust in the health care industry and can feel confused or even frightened when that trust is betrayed. But you don’t have to get through this alone. Our attorneys are knowledgeable about legal claims involving drug injuries. We are here to help you walk through this difficult time and we are happy to help answer your questions.
A safety clinical trial showed an increased occurrence of cancer in patients taking Belviq (lorcaserin). Patients who participated in the five-year trial were diagnosed with a range of cancer types, with some types of cancer occurring more frequently in the participants taking lorcaserin. Cancer types recurrently diagnosed in the lorcaserin group included pancreatic, colorectal and lung.
Belviq was recalled in early 2020, and is no longer available for prescription-use or sale. If you are taking Belviq, you need to speak with your doctor about how to safely stop taking the medication. Belviq can lead to dependence, which means discontinuing the weight loss drug can result in withdrawal symptoms. Women between the ages of 20 and 29 and those individuals over 60 were found to more frequently experience withdrawal symptoms from Belviq, according to a study created by eHealthMe from reports of just over 3,000 people who had side effects from Belviq as monitored by the FDA. Also, the less time you have been taking the drug, the more likely you are to have difficulty stopping the drug. Taking other medications such as Abilify—used to treat certain mental or mood disorders—while taking Belviq can also determine how likely one is to experience withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor can discuss alternative weight-loss medicines and weight management programs with you to continue your weight loss goals.
The FDA advises that when disposing of unused medications, it is best to use a drug take-back location. If that is not feasible, you can dispose of Belviq in your household trash or recycling receptable. You should remove all personal information contained on the label prior to tossing the medicine bottle.
Belviq’s manufacturer was negligent in not adequately testing its’ medication prior to making it available to consumers. Eisai Inc. incorrectly touted the drug’s safety and did not make the public aware of Belviq’s true dangers. Therefore, you should not suffer without being compensated for your injury.
Cancer is a costly illness—financially, emotionally and physically. And the manufacturer of the dangerous drug should be responsible for covering the financial side of things as recompense for their wrongful actions, so you can focus solely on your difficult recovery ahead or the current and future needs of your family.
An experienced attorney can fight for compensation for you to include actual medical expenses for your treatment (past, present and future), pain and suffering or the mental anguish caused by your condition, loss of wages or earning potential for yourself and your family, loss of enjoyment of life or loss of consortium (familial relationships), and other compensation such as punitive damages, designed to punish the wrongdoer for intentional or reckless harm or gross negligence that led to harm.
If you developed pancreatic, colorectal, lung cancer after taking Belviq, you might qualify for a Belviq lawsuit. There are time restrictions and other guidelines to follow in filing a successful claim. An attorney experienced in handling drug injury lawsuits can review your case and medical history to help provide you with the best possible chance of receiving a sizeable settlement or favorable jury verdict.
Taylor Martino’s experienced personal injury legal team is speaking with Belviq users who have suffered health complications and assessing potential legal action against Eisai. If you or a loved one have sustained injuries after taking Belviq, we are here to help.
The Belviq injury lawyers at Taylor Martino want to speak with you about your case today! We are are offering FREE legal consultations with our experienced Belviq lawsuit lawyers to those who may have suffered both medically and financially as a result of being prescribed Belviq for weight loss.
We promise to work hard for you as you bring forth your claim, protecting your confidentiality and defending your rights along the way. We will evaluate your situation and determine if you have a legal claim for damages and how we can best help get you the compensation you need and deserve to recover and get on with your life, hopefully healthier and made whole. Call us at 251-433-3131.