What is Belviq?
Belviq (generic name Lorcaserin) is a popular prescription-only chronic weight management drug. It is currently prescribed in the form of a 10mg, twice daily tablet, while Belviq RX is a once a day slow release tablet. Belviq works in the brain as an agonist of the serotonin receptors. By binding to serotonin receptors in the brain, Belviq promotes feelings of fullness and reduce appetite. It is prescribed to individuals who are overweight or experiencing obesity with at least one weight-related condition, such as hypertension (high blood pressure), type-2 diabetes, or dyslipidemia (high cholesterol). Initially thought to be the best option for chronic weight loss management on the market, Belviq is now joining a long list of appetite suppressing medication to be recalled citing safety concerns.
What is the risk?
Belviq is being pulled from the US Market by the manufacturer after a recent review of the clinical safety trials by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The five year long clinical safety trial (which examined 12,000 patients) found that patients taking Belviq were at an increased risk of being diagnosed with pancreatic, colorectal and lung cancer. According to the FDA, almost 8% of patients were diagnosed with a type of cancer after a longer duration of treatment on Lorcaserin.
On January 14, 2020 the FDA requested that Eisai, manufacturer of the prescription medication Belviq, voluntarily withdraw the drug from the US market. An official company statement said: “We are taking this action because we believe that the risks of lorcaserin outweigh its benefits based on our completed review of results from a randomized clinical trial assessing safety.” The FDA recall notice also stated the following findings: A range of cancer types was reported, with several different types of cancers occurring more frequently in the lorcaserin group, including pancreatic, colorectal, and lung. In a statement to CNN, Eisai said they have a “different interpretation of the data from the trial and still believes the drug has a ‘positive benefit-risk profile,’ but pulled the drug anyway pending the FDA’s full assessment of the study.” Eisai respects the FDA’s decision and is working closely with the Agency on the withdrawal process.”
Patients using Belviq are encouraged by the FDA to stop the use of the drug and to speak with their healthcare professionals regarding an alternative treatment. They also recommend disposing of the medication with the following steps:
“It’s best to dispose of unused lorcaserin using a drug take back location, but if you can’t get to one you can dispose of lorcaserin in your household trash:
- 1. Mix the pills with an unappealing substance such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds; do not crush them.
2. Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag.
3. Throw away the container in your trash at home.
4. Remove or delete all personal information on the prescription label of empty medicine bottles or packaging, then throw away or recycle them.”
At this moment, the FDA is recommending standard cancer screenings for patients who are currently on, or who have previously used Belviq.
If you were prescribed the drug, Belviq and have been diagnosed with pancreatic, lung or colorectal cancer, please reach out to us. We may be able to help.