The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in February requested that weight-loss drug Belviq be pulled from the market due to cancer concerns. While Eisai Inc., Belviq manufacturer, complied with the FDA’s request for removal, the lawsuit filed by Barbara Zottola states “by that point, unfortunately, the damage had already been done.”
Concerns regarding the safety of Belviq, the brand name of lorcaserin, are not new. The FDA initially rejected an application for approval of lorcaserin “due to safety concerns, specifically cancer risk,” according to the complaint.
A study ran by Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. in 2007 showed that lorcaserin caused rare and aggressive tumors in rats. Despite those results, Arena and Eisai resubmitted the application for lorcaserin as Belviq in 2012 and the FDA approved it in 2013 for use by patients with weight-related health conditions.
Concurrently, the FDA stipulated that Eisai must conduct long-term clinical studies to assess the risk of any cardiovascular complications. However, the drug was already being marketed and prescribed to patients while the study was ongoing.
The FDA reported that patients in the study who took Belviq were more often diagnosed with cancer. Zottola believes that Belviq never would have been approved if Eisai and Arena told the FDA about the cancer risks identified in the initial rat study.
The complaint asks the federal court to certify a class of hundreds of thousands of people across the country who purchased Belviq. The lawsuit seeks damages for alleged breach of an implied warranty, deceptive acts, false advertising, unjust enrichment, fraud, and conversion.
If you or a loved one have taken Belviq and have been diagnosed with cancer, you may be entitled to financial compensation.