The Truth About the Weight Loss Drug Belviq and Legal Claims
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Belviq is a weight loss medication in the middle of impending class action lawsuits for the manufacturer’s negligence in warning the public of the risk for cancer from taking the drug. Eisai Co. is the manufacturer and the company has voluntarily initiated a recall of the product due to its risk.
What Belviq Does
Belviq was the first weight loss medication approved by the FDA in 13 years. It received approval in 2012 and was put on the market in 2013. Along with Belviq, doctors could prescribe Belviq XR, which is an extended release medication. Belviq is the tradename for lorcaserin.
The medication was given to people who were determined to be obese to aid in weight loss. These patients often had other medical issues because of their weight. They were unsuccessful at being able to lose weight through diet and exercise alone.
The medication is put into a class of drugs as a serotonin receptor agonist. It works with a certain part of the brain to control appetite. The medication will increase the level of serotonin in the brain to trick the brain into believing it is full even on less food. Serotonin is known as the “feel-good” hormone.
The idea of taking the medication is that a person will eat less while working to lose weight through exercise and diet. Doctors often used this medication for people who had other health issues because of their weight, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. In many cases, the person would be better able to control those health issues as they lost weight and kept it off.
The medication is to be taken twice a day for control of the appetite. With Belviq XR, it is taken only once per day because the medication is released over time. This drug can be habit-forming and requires a doctor’s supervision.
The Risks of Taking Belviq
The FDA issued a letter in February 2020 encouraging people who were taking Belviq to stop using the medication because it was linked to an increased risk for cancer. Shortly after this letter, the manufacturer of the drug, Eisai, Co. issued a recall and removed it from the market.
Studies were done of the drug before it was approved. These initial studies indicated that Belviq may have caused an increased number of tumors in the test subjects, which were rats. Though the FDA later approved the drug, it came with a conditional approval for continued studies. The following study was for five years. At the end of the study, the results are what led the FDA to request users to stop taking the medication.
The study involved 12,000 participants and was a double-blind clinical trial using a placebo. This means that neither the doctors prescribing the medications nor the patients taking it know whether they received the drug or the placebo. The results are more accurate and not subject to bias in this kind of test. The study focused on cardiovascular risks because previous weight loss drugs had been linked to cardiovascular health problems.
While the study indicated that the drug didn’t raise serotonin levels to the point where they caused a risk in cardiovascular health, it did show an increased risk for certain types of cancers. In the number of participants in the study, the most frequent cancers diagnosed were lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and colorectal cancer.
The concern about cancer didn’t show up in the initial study, which led experts to believe it is from long-term use that the risks increase. The second study showed that the risks for cancer could increase the longer a person took the medication.
Side Effects of Belviq
Belviq comes with a list of side effects, some potentially serious. If a person has an allergic reaction to the drug, they should seek emergency medical attention. Signs of an allergic reaction include swelling of the face, throat, lips or tongue and hives, along with problems breathing.
The drug also comes with other serious side effects where medical attention is needed:
- Problems with memory or concentration
- Suicidal thoughts or of harming oneself
- Changes in mood or behavior that seem odd
- Faster heart rate
- Dizziness and weakness that doesn’t go away
- Fever, agitation and other signs that too much serotonin is in the body
- Rigid muscles
- The feeling that you are watching your body from the side
More common side effects include headaches and dizziness, nausea, dry mouth, back pain, coughing and constipation. It can also cause low blood sugar in diabetics.
Is Belviq Involved in a Lawsuit?
Free case evaluations are being conducted with lawsuits being filed against the manufacturer of Belviq. Allegations in these lawsuits include the fact that the manufacturer did not warn the public of the risk for cancer and failed to provide safety information about the drug. At the same time, it provided misleading information that led patients to believe it was safer than what it was.
Manufacturers of medications have a legal and moral responsibility to conduct enough research and relay those findings to the public to know if there is cause for concern in taking the drug. Many believe that Eisai Co. failed in this task and should be held accountable for their negligence. Some of the claims that may be made against the company include:
- Ignoring evidence that indicated a possible link between the drug and cancer
- Failure to conduct research on possible side effects prior to being released to market
- Continuing to sell the product after risks were discovered
- Not following up on studies which showed a link between Belviq and cancer
- Delaying a recall of the medication
- Providing information that was misleading regarding the safety of taking the drug
- Placing the desire to make a profit over safety of patients
Plaintiffs state that even though the study was for how the drug impacted cardio health, the increase in cancer during this clinical trial should not have been ignored. The manufacturer had an obligation to alert the public of the risks.
What If You Took Belviq?
If a doctor prescribed Belviq for weight loss and you have been diagnosed with cancer, you should see an attorney. Our law firm is providing free case evaluations to determine if you may be eligible to file a lawsuit for your damages. We can help you get the maximum compensation for your losses. We can’t replace your health, but we can help you get a settlement as you seek medical care for your cancer. We have represented many clients in this type of claim and allowed them to receive a fair settlement for their damages.