In January of 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it was taking a look into the safety of the weight-loss drug lorcaserin, or Belviq. On February 13, 2020, the manufacturer of Belviq, Eisai Inc., withdrew Belviq from the market at the FDA's request. Our lawyers are looking Belviq cases for people who may have cancer as a result of this drug?
Belviq is a weight-loss drug. Arena developed Belviq in partnership with Eisai Co. Ltd. Its active ingredient, lorcaserin, makes patients feel full by altering chemicals in the brain. It is used along with diet and exercise to promote weight-loss, particularly in patients with diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure.
On June 27, 2012, the FDA approved lorcaserin (trade name Belviq) for chronic weight management. This was the first anti-obesity medication to win approval since Orlistat in 1999. Why? These drugs have a history of having dangerous side effects. If you want proof of this, look at the $20 billion dollars it took to settle the lawsuits involving fen-phen and Redux.
How did Belviq get approved? Everyone was excited that noting the drug did not activate the serotonin 5-HT2B receptors like fen-phen. The FDA still made Arena do six post-marketing studies and report back on the cardiovascular outcomes of Belviq. No one was properly focused on the possible cancer risk.
Yet the problem was staring them right in the face. The FDA was even going back and forth with Arena about the results of a rat study that appeared to link the drug to increased cancer risk. Arena's response? Belviq drug elevated the levels of a certain hormone that only rats have. Seriously?
Clinical trials showed that taking Belviq increased the occurrence of cancer in patients. Many types of cancer were found, but pancreatic, colorectal, and lung cancer were found more frequently.
Lorcaserin was not approved at first due to concerns from laboratory studies on rats which linked the drug to the development of malignant tumors. After further study and evidence, the FDA approved the drug, understanding that cancer was a risk but determining that the benefits of weight-loss would be greater than any of the risks they had investigated.
When the drug was approved by the FDA in 2012, Arena Pharmaceuticals (the company that originally marketed the drug) was required to begin a clinical trial. Among other side effects, the trial was meant to detect any increased risk of cancer. There were also concerns about heart valve damage since that had been a problem with previous weight-loss drugs.
The trial included 12,000 people over five years. Years later, the FDA has found that more patients taking the drug were diagnosed with cancer than those taking a placebo. As a result, the FDA now believes that the risks of Belviq outweigh its benefits.
In the study, all participants were either overweight or obese. Additionally, they either had an established cardiovascular disease or were 50 years old or older with type 2 diabetes and an additional cardiovascular risk factor. They were assigned either lorcaserin or a placebo. Researchers followed up with participants about three years after they started the medication.
Pancreatic, colorectal, and lung cancer were found in the lorcaserin group more frequently than other types of cancer.
The study revealed an imbalance in the number of patients diagnosed with cancer between the lorcaserin and placebo groups. Of the 12,000 participants in the study, "462 (7.7 percent) patients treated with lorcaserin were diagnosed with 520 primary cancers compared to the placebo group, in which 423 (7.1 percent) patients were diagnosed with 470 cancers."
Additionally, it was found that the risk of cancer increased the longer someone took lorcaserin. This increase was enough for the FDA to decide that this medication simply presents too much of a risk. In other words, the increased likelihood of developing cancer does not outweigh the benefit of weight loss for these patients.
The starting point is that you should ask your doctor, not a lawyer, right? That said, the FDA has recommended that patients talk to their doctors immediately about an alternative medication or weight-loss program. It is generally safe to stop taking this medication right away. Is it always best to talk to your doctor before making changes to the medicines you take? Yes.
Belviq is known to produce drug dependence, especially if taken in incorrect dosages. If you are worried about stopping the medication, talk to your doctor. Be sure to monitor your blood sugar or pressure if applicable.
It is unclear at this early stage exactly what legal action from Belviq's recall will look like. However, the lawyers at Miller & Zois are now signing up clients. This is all contingency fee work. There is no risk for you. We are particularly interested in hearing from you if, after taking Belviq, you were diagnosed with pancreatic, colorectal, or lung cancer.
If you or someone you know has suffered from cancer we may be able to help you get much-needed compensation. Call our attorneys today at (800) 553-8082, or fill out our online form for a free consultation.Litigation History to Date
There have not been any Belviq lawsuits filed yet. The news of this just broke on Valentine's Day, 2020. It is our expectation that there will be enough cases for an MDL type class action. But that remains to be seen. Our lawyers do not have a good handle on how many cases we should expect.Settlement Value of Belviq Cases
It is hard to speculate on what the settlement value of these cases might be. But we do know that cancer claims in mass torts like this case settle in excess of $500,000. The Roundup cancer cases should settle soon and will be a good indication of what the settlement value of the Belviq cases could be.Getting a Lawyer for Belviq Cancer Cases
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer after taking Belviq or Belviq XR, our lawyers are here to fight for you. You can speak with one of our legal professionals at (800) 553-8082, or fill out an online form for a free consultation.