If you or a loved one have taken Belviq (also known as lorcaserin), you undoubtedly want to know why the weight-loss drug was recalled. Lorcaserin, the active ingredient in Belviq, belongs to a class of drugs known as serotonin-receptor agonists. The drug reduces appetite by activating receptors in the brain that control appetite. This causes people who take it to feel more full, subsequently making them eat less.
In February 2020 however, the FDA recalled Belviq due to concerns that the drug is associated with an increased cancer risk. After the FDA requested the recall, the manufacturer, Eisai Inc. voluntarily recalled Belviq.
It’s not a good feeling to know that you have taken a drug that might negatively affect your health. Facts can help calm worries and fears however, so continue reading to learn more about the recall and the facts about the connections between Belviq and cancer.
Belviq has been associated with both heart valve problems and an increased risk of cancer. It was ultimately the increased cancer risk that caused the recall. After the drug was approved in 2012, the FDA required Eisai Inc. to complete additional tests on efficacy and safety because previous clinical trials indicated cardiovascular and cancer risks. This led to a long-term safety clinical trial of Belviq.
When researchers followed up with test participants five years later, 7.1% of people in the placebo group developed cancer while 7.7% of people in the Belviq group developed cancer.
The types of cancer that were especially prevalent included lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, and colorectal cancer.
While the news about Belviq and cancer is scary, if you have taken Belviq and have not developed cancer, it is reassuring to know that the incidence of cancer is only slightly higher than the control group (.6%). However, according to the FDA, the risks of taking the drug outweigh the benefits.
The FDA does not recommend additional cancer screenings for people who have taken Belviq. They do however, recommend that anyone still taking the drug stop taking it and contact their healthcare provider to discuss alternative weight-loss strategies. Of course, if you have concerns about your health, you should also talk to your doctor about your symptoms and discuss potential screenings.
Even at the time of approval in 2012, Belviq was linked to an increased risk of cancer in rats, and there were additional concerns about cardiovascular health. A 2007 study indicated that it caused rare and aggressive tumors in rats. In 2010, the FDA rejected an application for Belviq approval; the agency said the reasons were “due to safety concerns, specifically cancer risk.” Nonetheless, in 2012 when the drug was resubmitted for approval, the FDA approved the second application.
In a letter warning about the safety concerns of Belviq, Dr. Sidney Wolfe, Director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group called the FDA’s approval of the drug reckless. She also noted that the FDA approved Belviq reluctantly due to its connection to concerns with cardiovascular health. In addition to the trial showing cancer in rats, clinical trials completed before the drug was approved also showed a link to heart valve problems. These cardiovascular concerns were the reason the FDA requested an additional clinical trial when the agency approved the drug in 2012. The purpose of the clinical trial was to assess the long term safety of Belviq.
If you or a loved one have taken Belviq and subsequently developed cancer, you’re undoubtedly scared and upset. You also probably want to seek justice and get compensation for your medical bills and for the emotional toll you’ve experienced. Others have already started filing claims, and you can also find out if you are eligible to file a claim as well.
If you or a loved one have been harmed by Belviq you may be eligible for compensation
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