Belviq and Cancer: Can You Sue?

Belviq information

The diet drug Belviq was pulled from the shelves in early 2020 because of a new study showing multiple cancer risks. Read on to find out if you may be eligible for legal recourse after developing cancer following a Belviq regimen.

What is Belviq?

Belviq, also known as lorcaserin and which additionally comes in an extended-release form, was produced by the company Eisai Incorporated. Belviq is a drug prescribed for weight loss, and functions as an appetite suppressant by activating a particular serotonin receptor found in the brain’s hypothalamus.

After first being rejected by the FDA for a study that found tumors in rats that the drug was tested on, Belviq was approved in 2012 for some patients but classified as a schedule IV substance (controlled substance) due to some hallucinogenic side effects and possible dependency.   

Nevertheless, Belviq was found to have a particularly positive weight loss impact on patients with Type 2 diabetes, with nearly half of subjects losing at least five percent of their body weight while taking it. 

Side effects of Belviq (besides cancer!) include the following: 

  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Feeling nauseous 
  • Fatigue 
  • Back pain (for diabetes patients)
  • Coughing (for diabetes patients)

What the FDA Found

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement on January 15, 2020, in which it announced findings linking the use of Belviq to multiple types of cancer. Shortly after, the FDA requested that Eisai Inc. voluntarily withdraw the drug from the market.

The FDA’s findings were based on a five-year study of Belviq users, which revealed over that period an increased risk of three types of cancers that patients developed after sustained use. Those cancers are lung, pancreatic, and colorectal. Lesser linked cancers included breast cancer and brain cancer. 

If you still have Belviq medication in your home, you should dispose of it immediately. But don’t just throw the pill bottle in the trash. Don’t crush the pills either. Separate the pills from the bottle, and remove identifying information from the bottle label before throwing it away.

The FDA recommends mixing the pills (uncrushed!) with dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds and then putting that mixed garbage in a plastic bag. Seal it before throwing it out with the rest of the trash so that it doesn’t get consumed by animals or somehow enter the water supply. 

Is Weight Loss Medication Still Safe?

Just because Belviq has shown to cause a slightly increased cancer risk, this does not mean that all weight loss medications are going to cause cancer. It also doesn’t mean that Belviq necessarily causes cancer. 

In general, weight loss medication should be treated as a last resort after years of serious diet improvements and substantial daily exercise, which means 30 minutes a day of hard cardio. 

Do not go to your doctor and ask for prescription-level weight loss medication as this is not a recipe for success. Talk to your doctor about what else you can do, and only if they recommend weight-loss medicine should you consider it. Even with a doctor’s recommendation, discuss the risks with them, and decide if it is worth it. 

Lawsuits and Class Action Suits

A class-action lawsuit against Belviq was filed in New York in June, with more likely to come.

You may very well be eligible to join an existing class-action lawsuit against Belviq or file a suit on your own. The advantage of joining an existing class action is that your chance of success is significantly greater than going it alone. 

However, depending on your situation and after consulting with an attorney, you may instead opt to file suit yourself. In a lawsuit against Belviq’s manufacturer, your attorney will seek damages on your behalf, including medical expenses, lost wages, missed opportunities from treatment or illness, and pain and suffering. 

Read here to learn about the next steps in a Belviq case that you can take if you believe you have been affected by the drug.

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