People who took the diet pill Belviq (lorcaserin) were eight times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer compared to people who took a placebo, according to an analysis of long-term study data involving the drug. Belviq and Belviq XR were pulled from the market in February when the study revealed Belviq users had a higher occurrence of cancer in general compared to non-Belviq users.
The CAMELLIA-TIMI 61 trial involved about 12,000 patients. There were 520 cancers (7.7%) among patients taking Belviq compared to 470 cancers (7.1%) among patients treated with a placebo. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that this accounted for about one additional cancer diagnosis per 470 Belviq users over the course of a year.
While several types of cancers were noted in both groups, the Belviq group saw more patients with multiple primary tumors (20 compared to eight) and cases of metastatic disease (34 compared to 19). There were also more deaths from cancer in the Belviq group — 53 at a median of 3.3 years follow-up compared to 33 in the placebo group.
Three cancers stood out in the study that were of particular concern. Sixteen Belviq users developed pancreatic cancer during the study period compared to only two in the placebo group. Belviq users also had nearly twice the number of colorectal cancers compared to the placebo group — 26 versus 14. There were also 40 cases of lung cancer among Belviq users compared to 25 among nonusers.
Other cancers more frequently reported in the Belviq group include leukemia (12 vs six) and liver cancers (10 vs four).
“The cancer-related safety signal from nonclinical studies supports the plausibility of an excess cancer risk from lorcaserin, and the consistency of cancer findings in CAMELLIA-TIMI 61 and the robustness of sensitivity analyses further support a causative effect,” wrote John Sharretts, MD, of the FDA’s Office Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products in Silver Spring, Maryland, and colleagues. “The increased risk of various cancer types associated with lorcaserin in the clinical study reflects the pattern seen in nonclinical studies.”
If you or a loved one has taken Belviq and been diagnosed with cancer, we would like to talk with you. 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.