Beginning in June 2012, Eisai, Inc. sold the prescription weight loss medication Belviq in the United States market. Little recognized in early 2020 as the emerging pandemic captured the world’s attention, the Food and Drug Administration issued a formal safety communication identifying Belviq as a human carcinogen and requested that it be voluntarily withdrawn from the market. The resulting FDA announcement directed that physicians immediately stop prescribing Belviq and direct their patients to discontinue the medication.
These risks were not new. The FDA had previously refused to approve Belviq, rejecting Eisai’s application in September 2010 due to the cancer risk shown in animal studies and because the product worked poorly. On reapplication, the FDA allowed Belviq for limited patient populations based on body mass index and weight-related conditions. Less than a year later, however, the European Medicines Agency refused to approve the medication due to the increased occurrence of cancerous tumors in animal studies. The drug’s risks outweigh any possible benefits.
Notably, Belviq was marketed as a weight loss aid and not a necessary life-preserving medication. Internal studies indicated that the medication performed poorly even for its intended purpose, achieving limited weight loss in high body mass index patients and leading to weight regain with continued use. In addition to its known risks and documented lack of results, insurance frequently failed to cover Belviq and patients paid approximately $300 each month for the medication.
The FDA found that Belviq patients reported a wide range of cancer types, with pancreatic, colorectal, and lung cancers being the most frequently occurring injuries. Much like other cancer-causing products – including Zantac (ranitidine), valsartan, talcum powder, Roundup weed killer and asbestos – Belviq presented an unreasonable risk of injury while serving an unneeded purpose when safer alternatives existed. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer after using Belviq, the lawyers of Cellino Law would be honored to seek financial justice for your injury.