Truth: Belviq is prescribed to people who are suffering from obesity in conjunction with diet and exercise in order to encourage weight loss.
Truth: Belviq was approved by the FDA in 2012 under the condition that Eisai, the company that manufactures it, conduct clinical trials to test for potential heart problems that could be caused by the drug.
Truth: While heart problems weren’t discovered, the trial did show that more people who took Belviq developed cancer after taking the drug for a long time than did people who took the placebo for the trial.
Because of the increased risk of cancer, especially lung, colorectal, and pancreatic cancer, the FDA announced the results of the trial to the public in January of 2020. Eisai didn’t believe that the results of the clinical trial showed an increased risk of cancer and thought that the benefits of the drug outweighed any risks. The FDA disagreed and asked Eisai to voluntarily recall the drug, which it did in February of 2020.
If you or a loved one has taken Belviq for an extended period of time and has developed cancer as a result, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact Farah & Farah now and let us fight for the justice you deserve.
What Is Belviq?
Belviq is the brand name of lorcaserin, a drug for weight-loss that was developed by Arena Pharmaceuticals. It worked by suppressing appetite, leading people who took the drug to feel less of an urge to eat.
People taking Belviq would feel full after eating less food, which would then lead to weight loss. Belviq is prescribed by doctors and is typically paired with both exercise and diet in order to treat obesity.
What Is Belviq XR?
Belviq XR is the extended-release tablet version of Belviq. While the typical dose for regular Belviq is taken twice a day, Belviq XR is condensed into one dose and is taken once daily instead.
How Does Belviq Work?
Belviq works by activating the 5-HT2C serotonin receptors in the hypothalamus that controls appetite. By activating the 5-HT2C receptors, Belviq causes the activation of POMC, or proopiomelanocortin, which is a peptide chain that plays a role in appetite regulation. The activation of POMC causes satiety, or the feeling of being full.
People taking Belviq should lose around 5% of their weight within the first twelve weeks of taking the drug. However, because Belviq is typically combined with exercise and diet regimen, this is only accurate if those are also followed properly.
Who Takes Belviq?
Belviq is designed for people who are obese (having a BMI of 30 or above) or overweight (having a BMI of 25 or higher) and who also have at least one health condition as a result of being overweight or obese. These medical conditions can include:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
Belviq doesn’t actually treat any of those conditions. However, because it assists with weight loss, some health conditions caused by being obese could also improve.
Belviq should not be used by anyone who is pregnant. Significant weight loss during pregnancy can be dangerous, even for those who are obese or overweight.
What Is Obesity?
People are diagnosed as being obese when they have, in general, a BMI of 30 or higher. Obesity is a health concern, as it can increase the risk of diseases and other health problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, and even certain cancers.
BMI stands for body mass index. It’s determined by first dividing weight in pounds by height in inches squared. Then, multiply the total by 703 to get the BMI. Alternatively, BMI can be calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in meters squared.
BMI is an estimate of body fat content that works for many people, but isn’t a perfect measurement. However, it doesn’t measure fat directly, so it can be inaccurate for people, such as athletes, who have a lot of muscle. Muscular people may have a BMI that would qualify them as obese, even though the high BMI isn’t actually caused by excess body fat.
Causes of Obesity
Obesity isn’t always caused simply by overeating or failing to exercise. Diet and exercise contribute to the problem, but there are other factors that can be involved as well. There are inherited and environmental factors that can also contribute to obesity. In addition, obesity can also be a side effect of another disease or health problem.
Some of the United States’ high rate of obesity can be attributed to high calorie diets. For some people, they gain weight during pregnancy and find it difficult to lose. Others become obese because of medications they are taking or health conditions, whether inherited or contracted, that they may have. Age and socioeconomic factors can also play a role.
Obesity is a complicated condition and can’t be blamed simply on eating too much junk food.
Side Effects of Obesity
Obesity can be cosmetic concern, but there are a lot more problems that can result from it. Some of these are health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure, while others are social, including depression and other factors that can contribute to poorer quality of life.
Possible side-effects of obesity include:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Risk of stroke
- Digestive issues
- Liver issues
- Gallbladder disease
- Sleep apnea
- Erectile dysfunction in men
- Gynecological problems in women
- Increased risk of cancer of the:
Diminished Quality of Life
Obesity can negatively affect a person’s quality of life in multiple ways. In addition to the health issues that can result from obesity, there are also emotional and social problems that can occur. People suffering from obesity may not be able to participate in activities that they find enjoyable.
Obesity can contribute to physical disabilities that could prevent people from getting out, leading to social isolation. They may also have feelings of shame and guilt, as well as depression. Many also experience less achievement at work.
Side Effects of Belviq
Belviq has some common side effects that include:
- Back pain
- Dry mouth
- Low blood sugar (if you have diabetes)
Other side effects may also occur. People taking Belviq should pay attention to their symptoms and if they experience extreme side-effects or if they experience an allergic reaction to Belviq, stop taking the drug and immediately contact their doctor.
Signs of an allergic reaction to Belviq include hives, swelling (especially in the tongue, throat, lips, or face), and difficulty breathing. Severe side effects of taking Belviq can include the following symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Dry eyes
- Suicidal or self-harming thoughts
- Mood or behavioral changes
- Out-of-body feelings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
- Swelling breasts and nipple discharge (in either women or men)
- Painful or long-lasting erections (more than four hours)
- Difficulty breathing
- Heart racing
- Swelling hands, feet, legs, or arms
- Nausea and vomiting
- Overactive reflexes
- Uneven heartbeats
Some of these symptoms are signs of heart problems, a severe nervous system reaction, or high levels of serotonin. Anyone who experiences any of the above side-effects as a result of taking Belviq should stop taking the drug and consult with a doctor.
Belviq’s Clinical Trials
Belviq was approved by the FDA in 2012, but also required the company, Eisai Inc., to conduct a clinical trial in order to evaluate a potential risk for problems related to the heart. The clinical trial was required to be randomized and double-blind, as well as placebo-controlled. The trial the company conducted over a five year period tested 12,000 people and found that more people developed cancer who had taken the real Belviq drug than among those who had taken the placebo.
In January of 2020, the FDA made a public announcement about the increased risk of cancer. At the time, the FDA was still investigating the possible increased risk of cancer from taking Belviq, but had wanted to warn the public while the investigation was ongoing.
Belviq’s Links to Cancer
The data compiled by the FDA from the clinical trial showed that 7.7% of people who took Belviq during the trial later developed cancer, while among those who took the placebo, 7.1% developed cancer. The increased risk of cancer was seen only after an extended period of taking Belviq.
The types of cancers developed by people in the trial varied. The following cancers were reported most often:
- Pancreatic cancer
- Lung cancer
- Colorectal cancer
In February of 2020, the FDA requested that Eisai voluntarily recall both Belviq and Belviq XR from the market. The FDA felt that the risk of cancer outweigh the benefits provided by the drug. Eisai stated that its interpretation of the trial data was different from the FDA’s and believed that the benefits of the drug outweigh the possible risk of cancer. The company did, however, comply with the FDA’s request and issued a voluntary recall of both Belviq and Belviq XR.
Janet Woodcock, MD, who is the FDA’s director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, made a statement that healthcare professionals should immediately stop prescribing Belviq. She also recommended that patients taking Belviq stop taking the drug and speak to their doctor about alternative treatment options.
Symptoms of Cancer
The signs that you may have developed cancer because of Belviq may vary, since there were different cancers that people involved in the clinical trial developed. However, three cancers in particular were the most commonly reported cancers from the trial: lung, pancreatic, and colorectal cancer.
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
In its earliest stages, which is the point at which cancer is usually the easiest to treat, lung cancer typically doesn’t exhibit symptoms. This means that unfortunately, lung cancer can easily go undetected until its in a more advanced stage. It’s therefore important that you talk to a medical professional as soon as you experience any symptoms that worry you.
The most common symptoms of lung cancer are:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- A cough that won’t go away
- Bone Pain
- Losing weight even if you’re not trying to
Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
Similar to lung cancer, pancreatic cancer also often doesn’t show any symptoms until it’s in a more advanced stage. If you experience any symptoms that worry you that don’t have another explanation, it’s important to consult with a doctor as soon as possible.
Typical symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:
- Appetite loss
- Losing weight even if you’re not trying to
- Jaundice (yellowing skin and the whites of your eyes)
- Pain in the abs that radiates to the back
- Itching skin
- Urine is dark in color
- Stools are light in color
- Blood clots
- Diabetes (either a new diagnosis or an existing diagnosis that is difficult to control)
Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer affects the large intestine and can affect everything from the colon at the end of the digestive tract to the rectum, which begins at the end of the colon. Cancer in this area can also be called either colon or rectal cancer, depending on where the cancer began. The symptoms for both are similar.
The symptoms of colorectal cancer are:
- Inexplicable weight loss
- Bloody stools
- Persistent gas, cramps, or pain in the abdomen
- Feeling as if the bowel isn’t completely empty
- Fatigue or weakness
- Changes in stool consistency
- Narrow stools
- Mucousy stools
For rectal cancer specifically, additional symptoms include iron deficiency anemia.
If you have taken Belviq or Belviq XR and you have developed cancer after long-term use of the drug, you may be entitled to compensation. Eisai, the manufacturer of Belviq, issued a voluntary recall of the drug in 2020 when the FDA encouraged it to. However, the company says that they interpreted the data from the trial differently than the FDA does and that they considered the benefits of Belviq to outweigh the potential risk of cancer.
The FDA, which is responsible for approving all drugs that are on the market, felt differently. In January of 2020, the FDA first warned the public of the risk of cancer and stated that they were investigating the risk. A month later, in February, the FDA then asked Eisai to recall the drugs, which they did voluntarily. The FDA felt that the risk of cancer was enough that it outweighed any benefits Belviq could provide.
Do I Have a Belviq Case?
If you have developed cancer after taking Belviq, Belviq XR, or another form of lorcaserin, the first step is to consult with your doctor. It’s important to be able to show that your cancer was caused by taking Belviq. Then, the next step is to consult with an attorney. Farah & Farah’s legal team is highly experienced with defective drug lawsuits and can help you fight the company that allowed a drug that had a risk of cancer to stay on the market. Don’t wait to get the justice and compensation you deserve. Contact Farah & Farah today for a free consultation. You pay nothing unless your case is successful.