Belviq was prescribed as a weight loss drug, but it has now been removed from the market due to concerns that it may increase a person’s risk for cancer. Many lawsuits have already been filed against the manufacturer as the FDA has also indicated concern about the drug.
What is Belviq and What Does It Do?
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Belviq received approval by the FDA in 2012 along with Belviq XR for use as prescription weight loss medications. Belviq is the brand name for the drug lorcaserin with the XR being the extended release version of the medication. Doctors would prescribe the medication for patients labeled as obese or those who had medical issues due to their weight but were unable to lose weight through traditional means.
The medication works by altering chemical signals in the brain. It helps a person feel full while eating less. The brain signals control appetite, and it can be used along with diet and exercise or in people who cannot lose weight simply by dieting and exercising.
Doctors may prescribe the drug in patients who are obese and also diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. However, it doesn’t treat those other conditions.
The medication is given twice per day, except with the extended release version, which is taken once per day. It can be habit-forming and should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision.
What are the Risks Associated with Belviq?
Studies were done even before Belviq was approved that indicated it could increase the risk for cancer. Testing showed the possibility that it had increased the number of tumors in rats. The FDA required the manufacturer of Belviq to conduct more trials as a condition of approval. These tests were to determine the possible effects of the drug on the heart.
The results of the study showed a potential risk for cancer, which led the FDA to request that the drug be removed from the market. This step took place in February 2020. The FDA encouraged people to stop taking the drug immediately.
A five-year study showed that several different types of cancers were diagnosed among the 12,000 people who participated. The most frequent cancers were lung, pancreatic and colorectal cancer. According to the study, the risk of cancer increased the longer a person took Belviq.
What are the Side Effects of Belviq?
Belviq comes with some serious side effects. It can cause an allergic reaction, resulting in symptoms such as hives, swelling of the face, tongue, lips or throat, or difficulty breathing. Some severe side effects of this drug include the following:
- Memory issues
- Difficulty concentrating
- Thoughts of suicide
- Changes in mood or behavior
- Fast heart rate, dizziness, ongoing weakness
- Feeling as if you are standing outside your own body
- Hallucinations, fever, agitation or other signs of high levels of serotonin in the system
- Stiff muscles, sweating or other severe reaction to the nervous system
It is common for people taking Belviq to experience headaches, dizziness, nausea, back pain, dry mouth, constipation, coughing, and low blood sugar.
Several lawsuits and class action suits have been initiated against Eisai Co, the maker of Belviq. Allegations state that the company failed to provide safety information that told of the increased risk of cancer while providing misleading information about the drug’s safety.
The manufacturer has an obligation to do adequate research and present all information on risks to the public. Many people believe that Eisai Co. has not done so, which has led to lawsuits being filed against them. Claims against the company include the following:
- The manufacturer provided misleading information or false statements regarding the safety of the drug
- The manufacturer delayed a recall of the drug
- The manufacturer ignored evidence that linked the medication to cancer
- The manufacturer failed to follow up on studies that indicated a correlation between the drug and cancer
- The manufacturer failed to conduct adequate research on potential side effects before it was put on the market
- The manufacturer continued to sell the medication even after health risks were discovered
The lawsuits will allege that the company placed their desire to make money over the safety of consumers.
There were concerns about the safety of Belviq even before it came on the market. In 2010, the FDA rejected the application for approval because of a possible link to emergent brain astrocytoma. The agency required more studies to be done to have a better risk assessment.
Studies were done and a letter was sent to the FDA, stating that the increase of tumors seen in rats would not have the same effect in people. Even though the FDA approved the drug, it came with a condition. The manufacturer was required to conduct a clinical trial that would be double blind with a placebo to determine the risk for cardiovascular problems, which have been linked to other weight loss medications.
It was in this five-year trial that a possible link to cancer was detected. The results of the trial showed that Belviq didn’t increase the risk for cardiovascular issues but it didn’t include the increase in risk for developing cancer from long-term use. Because the manufacturer didn’t make this information public and warn users, they may be held liable.
What Should You Do If You Took Belviq?
If you took Belviq because it was prescribed to you by a doctor for weight loss, you may be eligible for compensation if you developed cancer later on, specifically one of the commonly linked cancers.
It’s important to find an experienced Belviq attorney who can represent you in a class action lawsuit. The attorney will be knowledgeable about how the drug works, the side effects associated with the medication and where the manufacturer failed in their responsibility. They can seek compensation to pay for medical costs and other damages that resulted from taking this medication. While the lawsuit won’t erase what has happened, it holds the manufacturer responsible for providing accurate information about the safety of its products. Our law firm has successfully represented many clients in these types of claims and helped them receive fair compensation for their losses.
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