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Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP

Popular Diet Pill Belviq®Linked to Cancer

Toward the end of February 2019,  the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about the weight loss medication, lorcaserin hydrochloride. Sold under the brand name of Belviq® the medication was designed to create feelings of fullness to curb how much people consume.

How the Risk Was Discovered

Studies for the medication are still ongoing despite the FDA’s approval of the medication in 2012, but data suggests a link between the medication and cancer. It remains uncertain what exactly in the medication causes cancer. It also remains uncertain if the link is a correlation or causation.

Previous Denial by the FDA

In 2010, the creator of Belviq®, Arena pharmaceuticals, was denied FDA approval for the medication in a 9-5 vote. The committee members at the time believed that the benefits of the medication were minimal and that less than half of all patients achieved a 5% or greater loss in body weight. There was also a concern that animals who received the medication experienced an increased risk of tumors. At the time, the committee recommended that Arena perform additional research on the safety of the drug.

The Controversial Decision to Approve Lorcaserin Hydrochloride

Due to its previous FDA denial as well as other reasons, the FDA’s decision to approve the medication during a review that occurred two years later was controversial. For one reason, the medication only resulted in a 3.3% improvement over the placebo group. Second, there was a concern that the medication could create difficulties with heart valves. Despite these concerns, the FDA still voted 18-4 in favor of approving lorcaserin hydrochloride.

The FDA and Approval of Anticancer Medications

A recent study published in JAMA Oncology reviewed 143 cancer drugs that were approved by the FDA from 2013 to 2018. 17% of these medications were determined to have no benefit over standard therapies. Consequently, a large number of anticancer medications approved by the FDA had no health benefits. In warnings for lorcaserin, however, the FDA states that the medication carries a “possible” increased risk of cancer and that it cannot be determined how the medication contributes to this increased cancer risk.

Weight Loss Medications and Cancers

This Beviq® warning represents another important issue. Most people should not be reliant on medication to lose weight. The reasons why many people end up struggling with weight are due to diet and lifestyle. Not to mention, obesity is also a substantial risk factor in various cancers as well as heart disease and diabetes. Not only can lifestyle changes and increase exercise help to control weight, but they can also help to decrease the risk of cancer. While weight loss can be challenging, it is not worth the risk to attempt to solve the problem with a medication that carries various health risks.

Speak with a Belviq® Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been adversely impacted by Belviq®, you should not hesitate to speak with a knowledgeable Belviq® attorney. Contact The Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe LLP today for a free consultation with our prescription drug injury lawyers.




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