Why Was Belviq Weight-Loss Drug Ever Approved for Consumer Use?

Since the FDA’s recall of Belviq in February 2020 – issued in response to findings that the diet drug increased the risk of cancer in users – questions have been raised about how the controversial weight-loss medication gained approval from the FDA in the first place. If you or someone you know took Belviq to lose weight and subsequently developed lung cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer or another type of cancer, you may be entitled to financial compensation through a Belviq cancer lawsuit. Contact a reputable Belviq injury lawyer as soon as possible to find out whether you are eligible to file a claim against Belviq maker Eisai Inc.

FDA Approved Belviq Despite Health Risks

Belviq and Belviq XR are the brand names of the prescription weight-loss medication lorcaserin, a drug approved by the FDA in 2012, after a series of high-profile diet drug recalls and known health problems. Belviq was designed to help obese individuals and overweight individuals with one or more weight-related health problems manage their weight by curbing their appetite and increasing feelings of fullness. However, at the time of Belviq’s approval, some studies had shown that the diet drug was linked to an increased risk of cancer and tumors in rats and there were also concerns about the potential risk of cardiovascular problems tied to the  medication. Despite concerns about the possible side effects of Belviq and a lack of data establishing the drug’s effectiveness, the FDA approved Belviq, but on one condition – that the drug manufacturer conduct additional studies to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the medication.

Belviq Aggressively Marketed as Weight-Loss Aid

Shortly after Belviq was approved in 2012, the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen published a report calling the FDA’s decision “reckless” and warning that the medication may expose users to serious health risks, including cardiovascular problems, which is a common side effect of diet drugs. “Marketing this drug to a population besieged by obesity and desperate for relief is irresponsible and a mistake that will benefit only the company that makes it,” Public Citizen wrote. At the same time that the makers of Belviq were studying the safety and efficacy of the medication per the FDA’s request, it was being aggressively marketed to consumers trying to lose weight. With other popular diet pills like Fen-Phen banned in the United States, Belviq quickly became the go-to diet drug for obese and overweight individuals, with more than 600,000 prescriptions filled in 2015 alone.

FDA Removes Belviq from the Market

In early 2020, eight years after the drug was originally approved, the FDA issued a drug safety communication notifying patients and healthcare providers that results from the Belviq clinical trial, ordered by the agency in 2012 to evaluate the risk of cardiovascular problems from the weight-loss medication, showed a possible increased risk of cancer with Belviq and Belviq XR. According to the FDA, the trial, which was conducted in 12,000 patients over the court of five years, showed that more patients taking Belviq were diagnosed with cancer compared to those taking a placebo. The cancer types reported by Belviq users varied, the most common being pancreatic, colorectal and lung cancer. Just one month after issuing this Belviq cancer warning, the FDA requested the withdrawal of Belviq from the market, indicating that the potential risk of cancer outweighs the possible weight-loss benefits of the medication.

Belviq Cancer Litigation Continues to Grow

Taking into consideration the fact that concerns about the safety and effectiveness of Belviq as a weight-loss aid predated the drug’s approval and the disastrous history of other dangerous diet pills like Fen-Phen, Meridia and ephedra, all of which have been banned in the United States, it is a wonder that the FDA allowed Belviq to be sold to consumers at all. In fact, Belviq attorneys across the country are currently reviewing individual claims on behalf of Belviq users who have been diagnosed with cancer, as well as class action claims on behalf of consumers who took Belviq and are now seeking reimbursement from the drug manufacturer for the cost of the medical monitoring they now require due to the risk of cancer. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with cancer and you believe the diagnosis is related to the use of the diet drug Belviq, do not hesitate to seek legal help. Consult a knowledgeable Belviq cancer attorney right away to discuss your claim.