Belviq, the brand name of lorcaserin, is a weight loss drug that originally hit the market in 2012. It was developed by Arena Pharmaceuticals and marketed by Eisai Corp, Ltd. However, it was voluntarily withdrawn from the market in February 2020 at the request of the FDA due to its risk of causing cancer. Now, millions of patients are potentially at risk of developing cancer from using Belviq — and many others are also suffering from medical issues after using the drug.
At TonaLaw, our Belviq class action and mass tort lawsuit lawyers are here to help you get the compensation you deserve if you have developed cancer or other medical issues as a result of taking lorcaserin. We offer free case evaluations to anyone who believes they may have a case. Give us a call at 1-833-TONALAW or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation today.
What Is Belviq?
Belviq is the brand name of lorcaserin. This is a drug that is intended to help obese people lose weight. It works by suppressing your appetite by activating your brain’s receptors for serotonin, which tell your body that you are satisfied. Tests that were submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showed that Belviq was twice as effective as a placebo for helping those with Type 2 diabetes lose weight.
In 2009, Belviq was originally submitted to the FDA by Arena Pharmaceuticals for use by anyone. However, the FDA voted against its release, as there was little evidence of its effectiveness in weight loss, and there were concerns of finding tumors in test rats. In 2012, however, the drug was resubmitted for approval, but with certain conditions. Specifically, it was submitted with the restrictions that it was only to be used by:
- People with a body mass index (BMI) over 30; OR
- People with a BMI over 27 who also have a “comorbidity,” such as Type 2 diabetes or hypertension
The FDA approved the drug with these restrictions, and lorcaserin hit the market. In 2016, the extended-release of the drug was approved for the market.
Health Risks Associated with Belviq
One of the conditions set in place by the FDA was that Arena Pharmaceuticals would have to run additional safety studies to ensure the drug wasn’t overly dangerous. These tests ran from 2013 to 2018 and consisted of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. In those five years, about 12,000 people participated in the trials. The tests showed that patients taking Belviq were more often diagnosed with cancer than those who took a placebo. In fact, one additional person per 470 taking Belviq for at least a year was diagnosed with cancer.
After these trials, the FDA decided the risks of lorcaserin outweighed its benefits. In 2020, the FDA asked Eisai to withdraw Belviq, and they complied.
The most common cancers that patients taking lorcaserin developed included:
- Pancreatic cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Lung cancer
- Colon cancer
- Breast cancer
The good news is, Belviq showed no real heart valve problems, unlike other weight loss drugs in the past. A negligible number of patients showed heart valve failure in clinical trials compared to those taking a placebo. Additionally, the heartbeat of those taking lorcaserin was 1-2 beats slower than those taking the placebo.
What Should I Do If I Take Belviq?
This recall is relatively new, and many people who take Belviq may have no idea that there are serious risks involved with taking the drug. If you are currently taking lorcaserin talk to your doctor immediately about alternatives for weight loss. At your doctor’s direction, you should dispose of your unused medicine at a drug take-back location, but if that’s not possible, throw them out in your trash, uncrushed.
Doctors and other medical professionals should stop prescribing Belviq and dispensing the drug to patients. Inform patients about the cancer risks associated with lorcaserin, and discuss alternative weight-loss strategies with them. It’s not important that you conduct special screening for those who take Belviq.
Can the Creators of Belviq Be Held Accountable for My Cancer?
If you have been prescribed Belviq or the generic lorcaserin, and you developed cancer as a result, you may be able to hold Arena Pharmaceuticals and Eisai Corp, Ltd. liable. There were very clear risks of cancer development shown even before the drug was approved for the market, and ongoing studies only confirmed these risks.
Of course, Belviq was still prescribed to millions of patients, even though these risks were known. Because the drug developer knew of the risks, they can be held accountable for your medical bills and other losses. In addition, because Eisai knew (or should have known) about these risks and marketed the drug anyway, they can also be held liable.
At TonaLaw, we know how to hold these massive pharmaceutical companies accountable for the damage they caused, whether you’re filing a personal injury lawsuit or joining a mass tort or class action litigation.
We are preparing to bring actions against the manufacturers of Belviq, and representing clients in all 50 states. We offer free case evaluations to anyone who believes they may have a case. Give us a call at 1-833-TONALAW or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation today.