The weight loss medication Belviq aims to help patients who struggle with obesity by suppressing appetite and promoting feelings of fullness. This drug is no longer available for prescription, due to findings regarding its potential cancer risk.
In February 2020, the manufacturer of Belviq voluntarily withdrew the medication from the American market. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested the company pull Belviq after a five-year clinical study discovered an increased risk of cancer among its patients.
The History of Belviq and the FDA
In 2012, the FDA approved Belviq to treat obesity in patients who do not see results from diet and exercise alone. Since many weight loss drugs can pose risks to the cardiovascular system, the agency required Belviq’s manufacturers, Eisai Inc., to conduct a five-year study examining these risks.
Clinical trials prior to approval did not indicate any underlying cancer risks, and showed promising effects on weight loss. The post-approval study showed no risks to cardiovascular health compared to a placebo control group, but at the end of the five-year period, a disturbing trend in cancer risk came to light.
Belviq’s Cancer Study Finding
The first three years of the Belviq post-approval study showed comparable rates of cardiovascular disease risk between Belviq patients and placebo patients. However, during the final two years of the study, the group who took Belviq saw higher rates of certain cancers than those in the placebo group — 7.7% versus 7.1%.
While this difference may not seem significant at first glance — or to the study’s overall findings — the FDA disagreed. In particular, the FDA believes that Belviq may increase the risk of lung, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers.
In response to this study, the FDA requested Belviq to voluntarily recall its drug from the market while conducting further research. While the research is still pending, the FDA believes that it is more important to be safe — and cease taking Belviq until experts uncover more conclusive evidence.
If you are currently taking Belviq, dispose of the pills safely and contact your physician as soon as possible. You can take your Belviq prescription to a drug take back program near you, but if you do not have access to one, the FDA recommends the following methods.
- Mix — but do not crush — your Belviq pills with an unappealing substance. This can be used coffee grounds, dirt, or even cat litter.
- Place the Belviq-substance mixture in a sealed container.
- Dispose of the container in your home’s trash receptacle.
- Remove all personal information from your prescription’s packaging and dispose of the containers.
In terms of alternative medications, you should always speak to your doctor about the options available to you. Your doctor can prescribe the appropriate medication with regard to your medical history and personal needs.
Contact an Attorney at Shapiro Legal Group
You may be eligible for financial compensation through a lawsuit against Belviq’s manufacturers if you developed cancer after taking the drug. To qualify, you must have developed lung, colorectal, or pancreatic cancer within seven years after using Belviq for a period of six months. This six-month period does not have to be consecutive.
If you believe you are a Belviq cancer victim, contact a Belviq lawsuit attorney as soon as possible to discuss your claim and potential next steps.