Belviq Lawsuit Alleges Weight Loss Drug Led to Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis

A New York woman alleges in a new product liability lawsuit that side effects of Belviq caused her to develop thyroid cancer following several years of using the recalled diet drug. The lawsuit was filed by Deborah Steinman in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on June 11, and alleges, among other things, that Belviq never should have been approved for use as a prescription weight-loss medication, due to the potential risk of cancer users face. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer or another type of cancer, and you believe Belviq use led to the cancer diagnosis, contact an experienced Belviq cancer attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. You may qualify for compensation for your injuries and medical expenses, which you can pursue by filing a Belviq cancer lawsuit against Eisai Inc. and Arena Pharmaceuticals.

What is Belviq?

Belviq (lorcaserin) is a prescription weight-loss medication developed by Arena Pharmaceuticals and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2012, for use in combination with increased physical activity and a reduced-calorie diet to help with weight loss in adults who are obese or are overweight and struggling with weight-related medical problems. The drug was designed to help users lose weight by increasing feelings of fullness, and it did so by activating the 5-HT2C receptor in the area of the brain responsible for controlling appetite. Although Belviq’s approval in the United States came amid concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the weight-loss medication – concerns that caused the FDA to reject Belviq for approval in 2010 – the medication was aggressively marketed in the U.S. and quickly became widely used. The diet drug was also available in an extended-release version known as Belviq XR.

Trial Results Link Belviq to Increased Cancer Risk

When the FDA approved Belviq for use as a weight management medicine in 2012, it did so under one condition – that the drug maker conduct a clinical trial to evaluate the potential risk of heart-related side effects in users. Losing weight can be good for your heart, but some weight-loss drugs have been shown to cause potentially dangerous heart rhythm problems in users. And while early research showed that Belviq helped people lose weight without adversely affecting their heart, preliminary results from the Belviq safety trial required by the FDA revealed an entirely different problem. In January 2020, the FDA issued a drug safety communication warning Belviq users that clinical trial results showed a possible increased risk of cancer with Belviq treatment. At that time, the FDA reported that “the cause of the cancer is uncertain, and we cannot conclude that lorcaserin contributes to the cancer risk.”

Although the FDA was initially uncertain about the connection between Belviq and an increased risk of cancer, it was just one month later, in February 2020, that the agency requested the immediate withdrawal of Belviq and Belviq XR from the market, warning that the potential risk of cancer outweighs the potential weight-loss benefits of the drugs. The FDA’s withdrawal request was based on a completed review of the results of the same Belviq safety trial, which was conducted in 12,000 patients over five years, and found that more patients taking Belviq were diagnosed with cancer compared to those taking a placebo. According to the FDA, a variety of cancers were reported in connection with Belviq, the most common being pancreatic, colorectal and lung cancer. Since Belviq was pulled from the market, concerns have emerged about the potential for side effects of Belviq to cause other types of cancers and medical problems as well.

Cancer Lawsuits Blame Diagnosis on Exposure to Belviq

People who have taken Belviq for years as a weight-loss aid are now pursuing product liability lawsuits against Eisai Inc. and Arena Pharmaceuticals, claiming that the diet drug caused them to develop cancer. The plaintiff in this latest Belviq cancer lawsuit, Deborah Steinman, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in July 2018, and she alleges that the diagnosis was a direct result of taking Belviq for nearly three years, from November 2014 until February 2017. Steinman, along with other plaintiffs in the growing Belviq litigation, alleges that the makers of Belviq failed to provide adequate warnings about the potential health risks associated with the prescription diet drug, which never should have been made available to consumers in the first place.

“Defendants negligently and improperly failed to perform sufficient tests, if any, on humans using Belviq during clinical trials, forcing Plaintiff, and Plaintiff’s physicians, hospitals, and/or the FDA to rely on safety information that applies to other chronic weight management treatments, which does not entirely and/or necessarily apply to Belviq whatsoever,” the Belviq lawsuit states. “Defendants concealed their knowledge of the defects in their products from the Plaintiff, and Plaintiff’s physicians, hospitals, pharmacists, the FDA, and/or the public in general.” As more former Belviq users are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, thyroid cancer and other types of cancer, it is expected that additional Belviq lawsuits will be filed against Eisai Inc. and Arena Pharmaceuticals in the coming weeks and months.