The diet pill Belviq (lorcaserin) has been linked to a higher risk for cancer and cancer death, according to a new report from MedPage Today.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in February that it was recommending vendors remove Belviq from the market. Studies indicated an increased rate of cancers among patients who used Belviq compared to those who did not. According to the data, Belviq users had a 7.7% increase in cancer occurrence compared to 7.1% among nonusers. That accounted for one additional cancer diagnosis per 470 Belviq users over the course of one year.
A Look at Trial Data
A closer look at the CAMELLIA-TIMI 61 trial data gives more insight into the FDA’s decision:
- Among the 12,000 patients in the study, 520 Belviq users either received a cancer diagnosis or had their cancer spread, compared to just 470 among the placebo group.
- 20 of those in the Belviq group received diagnoses of multiple primary tumors compared to just eight in the placebo group. Multiple primary tumors are cancers that arise from different sites on the body and/or have a different shape or structure.
- Belviq users had more cancers that spread compared to non Belviq users — 34 compared to 19.
- People in the Belviq group had a higher death risk compared to those in the placebo group. At a median of 3.3 years follow-up, 52 cancer deaths occurred among Belviq users compared to 33 in the placebo group.
- New cancer diagnoses among both groups were similar during the first 180 days of the trial. The Belviq group reported 76 cases and the placebo group reported 77. However, point estimates from 180 days to 900 days taken every 60 days showed a steady increase above 1.0 in the Belviq group.
- Belviq users received 40 lung cancer diagnoses compared to 25 among non Belviq users.
- 26 Belviq users received a colorectal cancer diagnosis compared to 14 in the placebo group.
- Sixteen Belviq users received a pancreatic cancer diagnosis compared to two among nonusers.
- Twelve Belviq users received a leukemia diagnosis compared to six nonusers.
- Ten people in the Belviq group received a liver cancer diagnosis compared to four in the placebo group.
- Three cancers were less common in the Belviq group. These include prostate (61 vs 70), endometrial (six vs 13), and bladder (seven vs 13)
The FDA approved Belviq in June 2012 for long term weight management in overweight and obese patients. The approval was based on Belviq maker Eisai conducting long term safety studies to determine heart risks. Eisai completed those studies recently. They did not show Belviq increased the risk for heart attacks or strokes. However, they did show Belviq users had a higher rate of occurrence for cancer compared to nonusers.
The FDA Wrote:
“In keeping with a long-latency safety signal, cancer risk was elevated among patients in the lorcaserin group for all latency periods beyond 180 days. The higher incidence of cancer-related death in the lorcaserin group is also troubling. Although we cannot exclude the possibility that the observed imbalances are due to chance, conducting another trial to confirm or refute the signal isn’t feasible.”
If you or a loved one has taken Belviq and received a cancer diagnosis, please contact us. Roger Smith, Ryan Duplechin and Melissa Prickett, attorneys with Beasley Allen Law Firm, are currently investigating individual cases of pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer and lung cancer in patients who have been treated with Belviq.