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FDA Requests Withdrawal of Weight Loss Drug Belviq After Cancer Concerns

Tape Measure and Pills In February 2020, the Food and Drug Administration1 requested that the manufacturer of Belviq, a popular weight loss drug, voluntarily remove their drug from the market. This request came after safety clinical trials showed a possible increase in risk of developing cancer. In response, Eisai, the manufacturer of Belviq and Belviq XR (an extended release version), subsequently removed their drug from the market. Now, they are facing numerous lawsuits over concerns that they marketed this drug without adequate warning of the serious risk of cancer.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with cancer after taking the weight loss drug Belviq, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the manufacturers. At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our dangerous drug lawyers are helping victims of Belviq explore all of their legal options. We believe in holding negligent pharmaceutical companies accountable for the harm their drugs cause. We charge no fees unless we are successful in obtaining a settlement for you.

History of Belviq

Belviq, generically known as lorcaserin, was approved as a weight loss drug in 20122. The FDA approved the drug for adults with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30. They also approved it for adults with a BMI over 27 with at least one weight-related medical condition, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure. It was the first new prescription diet drug in 13 years, and it gained in popularity quickly. Originally manufactured by Arena Pharmaceuticals, the drug worked by controlling appetite, specifically by activating serotonin. Serotonin helps patients feel full even after eating smaller meals.

Originally, clinical trials found that nearly half of dieters who used the medication lost at least 5 percent. For best results, dieters were encouraged to use Belviq along with a healthy lifestyle.

Before Belviq was approved, the FDA had concerns that the drug may cause heart problems. However, Arena provided the FDA with data showing that heart problems would not occur at low doses. The FDA approved the drug but required that the manufacturer conduct six more studies to determine whether it would cause heart attacks and strokes in dieters.

What the FDA found when these studies were performed was that more patients taking Belviq were diagnosed with cancer. They then determined that the risk of developing cancer was greater than the weight loss benefits and requested that the manufacturer pull the drug from the market.

Belviq Can Cause Cancer

Eisai conducted the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate heart issues in patients. The CAMELLIA-TIMI 61 trial studied approximately 12,000 patients who took Belviq over a five-year period. It was conducted at over 400 sites in over eight countries. To date, it was the largest cardiovascular trial ever conducted for a weight loss medication.

The FDA reviewed the study and found that there was a significantly higher incidence of cancer diagnoses in patients taking Belviq. These cancers included a wide range of cancers. However, the three most common cancers identified were:

  • Pancreatic
  • Colorectal
  • Lung

Patients who have taken Belviq and developed cancer are urged to speak to an experienced lawyer to review their options.

Belviq Lawsuits

Reports indicate that Eisai and Arena Pharmaceuticals knew of Belviq’s potential to cause cancer but failed to disclose the seriousness of this link. In 2009, the FDA informed the manufacturers that it would not approve the drug after evidence of tumor growth in laboratory rats exposed to the drug surfaced. They then questioned the link between Belviq and cancer, most specifically adenocarcinoma. This is a specific type of cancer that starts in mucus-producing glands and it is found in many organs.

If Eisai and Arena continued to manufacture Belviq to the public after knowledge of its potential to cause cancer, they can — and should — be held liable. Lawsuits are beginning to rise against the Belviq manufacturers. There have been no settlements or verdicts yet, and an MDL or class action litigation has not yet formed. If you were diagnosed with cancer after taking Belviq, it is important to contact a lawyer immediately. You may be eligible to get in on the first stages of lawsuits against the manufacturers.

In Mississippi, Miss. Code Ann. § 11-1-63 gives injured patients the right to sue a drug manufacturer for failing to warn about the dangers of their drug. In order to win their case, plaintiffs must prove four elements:

  1. The drug did not provide adequate warnings of the dangers
  2. These inadequate warnings made the drug dangerous
  3. Failure to warn caused the plaintiff injuries
  4. Drug manufacturer knew of or should have known of the dangers

If you can clearly establish these four elements, you may be able to seek damages. In Mississippi, plaintiffs can seek both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include medical expenses, lost wages and rehabilitation costs. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, as well as emotional distress. In some cases, the courts may award punitive damages to punish the defendant for wrongdoing.

Belviq FAQs
  1. Does Belviq Cause Cancer?
    A safety trial showed that Belviq users did have a higher occurrence of cancer than those taking a placebo. About 7.7 percent of Belviq users developed cancer compared to 7.1 percent of nonusers.
  2. What Types of Cancer Did Belviq Cause?
    Belviq caused a variety of cancers, but most notably lung, pancreatic and colorectal cancers.
  3. I took Belviq and was diagnosed with cancer. Now what?
    If you were diagnosed with cancer after taking Belviq for weight loss, you may be eligible for compensation from the manufacturer. Belviq lawsuits are currently in development. As such, call Coxwell Law & Associates, PLLC to review your legal options quickly.
Contact Coxwell Law & Associates Today

At Coxwell Law & Associates, we are currently investigating cases of pancreatic cancer, lung cancer and colorectal cancer in patients who took Belviq for weight loss. We have experience helping injured patients receive the compensation they need after being harmed by a dangerous drug. Contact the skilled team at Coxwell & Associates, PLLC at (877) 231-1600 for a free initial consultation and review of your case.

  1. FDA requests the withdrawal of the weight-loss drug Belviq, Belviq XR (lorcaserin) from the market
  2. Belviq: 5 Things You Need to Know About the New Weight-Loss Pill
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