Belviq (weight-loss drug) presents risks of cancer

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Picture of Researcher: Ariana Arce​

Researcher: Ariana Arce​

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Journalist: Aaron Vivanco

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Editor: Daniela Polo

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Belviq (weight-loss drug) presents risks of cancer

After a five-year clinical trial to make sure Belviq (lorcaserin) does not pose any long-term cardiovascular health risks, the FDA released a safety communication in January 2020. The results present no long-term cardiovascular health risks, and most side effects appear mild. However, they do reveal a potentially increased risk of cancer after administration.

What is Belviq?

Belviq is the brand name of a weight-loss drug called lorcaserin manufactured by Eisai Inc. It is commonly prescribed by doctors as part of an exercise and diet routine to treat obesity.
Lorcaserin, an active ingredient in Belviq, activates the receptors in the brain that control appetite. Therefore, people tend to feel full with small portions of food after the administration of Belviq.

Belviq cancer and side effects

In the five-year clinical trials, more patients taking lorcaserin were diagnosed with cancer compared to patients taking placebo. The most common cancers found in the patients during the trials were pancreatic, colorectal, and lung cancer.

Belviq FDA recall

The FDA requested the withdrawal of Belviq and Belviq XR (lorcaserin) from the market, citing the fact that its potential risks of cancer outweighs the benefits.

Belviq lawsuit review

The Belviq lawsuit is only just beginning. Several people who were diagnosed with cancer after the administration of Belviq have filed lawsuits against Eisai Inc. The lawsuits allege that the drug led people to develop cancer and the company failed to warn users about the cancer risk.

  • In October 2021, Belviq lawsuits are being litigated in various courts across the country with no MDL.
  • In March 2020, a New York woman filed a class-action lawsuit against Eisai Inc. The lawsuit claims that the drug manufacturer continued to manufacture and sell Belviq despite clear evidence that it could increase the risk of cancer in patients. The lawsuit also includes Arena Pharmaceuticals (the original manufacturer of Belviq) and CVS Pharmacy as plaintiffs in the case.

Belviq cancer research

In the study, all participants were either overweight or obese. Additionally, they either had an established cardiovascular disease or were ≤50 years old with type 2 diabetes and an additional cardiovascular risk factor. They were prescribed either a lorcaserin or a placebo. Researchers followed up with the participants about three years after they started the medication.
The study revealed an imbalance in the number of patients diagnosed with cancer between the lorcaserin and placebo groups. Out of the 12,000 participants in the study, “462 (7.7%) patients treated with lorcaserin were diagnosed with 520 primary cancers compared to the placebo group, in which 423 (7.1%) patients were diagnosed with 470 cancers.”