Belviq Weight-loss Drug Cancer Lawsuit

The FDA has announced that weight-loss drug, Belviq is being voluntarily recalled after it was linked to an increased risk of cancer. People who took Belviq and have been diagnosed with cancer may be filing lawsuits against Japanese drug manufacturer, Eisai.

Quick Summary
Belviq Cancer Lawsuit

Weight-control medication Belviq has been linked to an increased risk of cancer and has been voluntarily recalled form the U.S. market.  People who took Belviq or Belviq XR for an extended period of time and were diagnosed with pancreatic, colorectal, lung or other cancers may be considering filing lawsuits against Japanese drug maker, Eisai to seek compensation for their injuries.

Belviq Weight Loss Drug Recall

Belviq was approved by the FDA in 2012 for weight-loss but the drug’s manufacturer, Eisai was required to undergo a long-term safety study to examine cardiac and other effects of the medication. Results of the five-year study which examined 12,000 patients showed an increased risk of a range of cancers in patients who had taken the medication for an extended period of time.

In February 2020, the FDA issued a notice of voluntary recall for Belviq and Belviq XR and recommended that patients discontinue taking the medication. The FDA stated that additional testing is not required at this time but patients were advised to talk to their health care providers about alternative medications or methods for weight loss.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that Japanese pharmaceutical company, Eisai, has agreed to voluntarily recall its weight-loss drug Belviq (lorcaserin) after a long-term safety study linked the medication to an increased risk of cancer.

Extended use of Belviq increased risk of cancers including:

  • Colorectal cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Lung cancer

The FDA ‘s announcement on February 13, 2020, stated that risks of Belviq outweighed any continued benefits and included recommendations that patients using Belviq and Belviq XR stop taking the medications.  The Agency did not recommend additional testing at this time but advised patients to talk to their health care providers about other medications or methods of weight loss treatment.

People who used Belviq or Belviq XR and were diagnosed with cancer, including pancreatic, lung or colorectal cancer may be considering filing lawsuits against Japanese manufacturer, Eisai. 

Belviq Cancer Risk and FDA Recall

Belviq (lorcaserin) was approved by the FDA in 2012. Other drugs in the diet industry had previously proven to have negative effects on heart function, prompting the FDA to order Eisai to undergo long-term safety studies of the drug’s cardiac effects and other chronic safety concerns. 

Eisai’s five-year safety study involved 12,000 patients and concluded no negative cardiac effects were shown; however, the study did show that patients taking Belviq for an extended period of time had an increased risk of cancer including colorectal, pancreatic and lung cancers.  Longer medication use correlated with increasing cancer rates.

Upon publication of study results showing cancer increase, in January of 21020, the FDA issued a safety alert regarding Belviq and Belviq XR warning of the potential cancer risk and stated that evaluation of the study results was ongoing.  The FDA stated that healthcare professionals should evaluate the risks of Belviq and compare them to possible benefits when prescribing the medication but did not declare that the increased cancer rates were directly connected.

On February 13, 2020, a voluntary recall w2as announced for all forms of Belviq and Belviq XR. The recall and withdrawal were issued voluntarily upon requires of the FDA to Eisai who agreed to cooperate with the Agency’s request but disagreed with study conclusion which links cancer to Belviq use.

Patients taking Belviq and Belviq XR have been advised to discontinue their medication and to discuss other medications or methods for their weight-control needs with their health care providers. The agency also stated that additional monitoring or testing was not required at this time.

The FDA recommended that patients stop taking Belviq and discuss alternative medications or weight-loss methods with their health care providers. They did not recommend that additional cancer screening was required at this time.

Treatment with Belviq

Belviq (lorcaserin) is a serotonin stimulant medication used for long-term weight loss and management which works by interacting with the serotonin 2c receptor to produce a feeling of fullness. It was approved to be used in conjunction with a reduced calorie diet and exercise regimen in obese patients and overweight patients who have weight-related medical conditions.

Body mass index (BMI) is a weight to height measurement used in determining need for weight management. A normal BMI is considered to be 18.5 to 24.9 kg/ m².

Belviq was intended for patients with BMI levels of:

  • 30 kg/m² or greater (obese)
  • 27 kg/m² or greater (overweight) if other weight-related conditions exists such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes

Side Effects of Belviq

Like all medications, Belviq had a number of common side effects which are mild-to-moderate, however some adverse events are more serious or even life-threatening.

Serious Belviq side effects include:

  • Cognitive impairment – memory loss, attention deficits, confusion and sleepiness may impair ability to perform normal activities. Caution should be used when driving or operating machinery.
  • Psychiatric disorders – hallucinations, dissociation, euphoria may occur in some patients, but others may experience depression or worsening depression, suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Health care providers should closely monitor patients for symptoms of psychiatric disorder.
  • Serotonin syndrome – occurs when serotonin levels in brain are too high and may be worsened when other serotonin medications are taken at the same time including antidepressants.

Symptoms may include:

  • Changes in mental status
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart rate or rhythm changes
  • High temperature
  • Movement disorders

In some cases, serotonin syndrome may be serious or even life-threatening and sudden or severe symptoms should be treated as a medical emergency.

Common Belviq side effects may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea or constipation

Filing a Belviq Cancer Lawsuit

Belviq and Belviq XR have been linked to an increased risk of cancer and have been voluntarily withdrawn from the market. The increased risk has included some patients with colorectal, pancreatic or lung cancer or other cancers who took Belviq or Belviq XR for an extended period of time.

Some people are considering filing Belviq cancer lawsuits against Eisai to seek compensation for their injuries and damages such as medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering and other losses.  People or loved ones of those who developed or were diagnosed with cancer after taking Belviq or Belviq XR may be eligible for compensation and should seek advice from legal experts.

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