Belviq (lorcaserin), a prescription diet pill intended as a long-term weight loss treatment for obese and overweight individuals, and the extended release version of the drug, Belviq XR, were pulled from the U.S. market on Feb. 13, 2020. Studies showed that people who used the pill had a higher occurrence of cancer compared to people who didn’t take the drug. The cancers that occurred most in Belviq users include pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, and lung cancer.
When Belviq was approved for marketing in 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required that the manufacturer conduct long-term safety studies to examine whether the medication increased the risk of heart attacks or stroke. The data showed that while there were no elevated heart risks related to Belviq use, patients treated with Belviq had a 7.7% occurrence of cancer compared to a 7.1% occurrence among nonusers. This translates to one additional cancer diagnosis per 470 patients. It was considered statistically significant enough for the FDA to order the withdrawal of Belviq and Belviq XR.
The FDA is not recommending people who used Belivq undergo special screening beyond following standard screening recommendations for cancer. But some Belviq users have expressed concerns about their risk of developing cancer in the future. If you have taken Belviq and experienced any symptoms of Belviq-related cancers, talk with your doctor and be sure to mention you have used the drug.
According to the American Cancer Society, signs of Belviq-related cancer (pancreatic, colorectal, lung) include:
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
- Dark urine
- Light-colored or greasy stools
- Change in bowel habits (such as diarrhea, constipation, narrowing of the stool)
- Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
- Blood in the stool
- Itchy skin
- Belly or back pain
- Abdominal cramping
- Chest pain that is worse while deep breathing, coughing, or laughing
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Persistent or worsening cough
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing up blood
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.