Denver’s NBC 9News medical expert Dr. Payal Kohli warned viewers to stop taking the prescription diet pill Belviq immediately, dispose of any unused pills, and talk to their doctors about alternative weight management treatments following a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announcement that it was withdrawing the medication from the U.S. market due to cancer risks.

The FDA’s approval of Belviq in 2012 was based on the drug maker conducting long-term studies to determine whether Belviq caused heart problems in patients. The drug was prescribed to obese adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater, and overweight adults with a BMI of 27 or greater with at least one weight-related condition.

When the data came in five years later, it didn’t show any increased risk for heart attacks or stroke. But it did show an increased occurrence of cancer in Belviq users. The data showed that 7.7% of Belivq users developed cancer compared to 7.1% of nonusers. And while the difference in numbers seems small, researchers found it statistically significant. According to the FDA, one additional cancer diagnosis was observed for every 470 patients taking Belviq for one year. The cancers most reported among these patients included pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, and lung cancer.

Dr. Kohli said that based on these findings patients should stop taking the drug. The FDA is not recommending any special screenings for patients who took Belviq. But they should talk to their doctors if they have any health concerns. This is especially important for people who have had cancer in the past.

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.

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