According to a recent class-action lawsuit, drug manufacturers Eisai, Inc. and Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. failed to inform the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) about a 2007 study showing that its weight-loss drug Belviq (aka lorcaserin) caused aggressive tumors in rats.
The FDA approved Belviq in 2012 but did so on the condition the manufacturers conduct clinical trials to check the risks of heart problems and strokes from using the drug. Over the course of five years, 12,000 patients participated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
The study revealed no additional cardiovascular risks by taking Belviq; however, the trial results indicated a high number of cancer diagnoses—primarily lung, colorectal, and pancreatic—among patients who took Belviq, compared with the placebo group. This “imbalance” increased the longer Belviq was being consumed.
Upon receiving these results in January 2020, the FDA issued a Drug Safety Communication alerting of the potential cancer-causing nature of the weight-loss drug. One month later, the agency requested that Belviq and Belviq XR (lorcaserin) be voluntarily removed from the market, citing as its reason that the “potential risks of cancer outweigh the benefits.” Belviq was then pulled from the market.
In April 2020, Barbara Zottola filed a class-action lawsuit against Eisai and Arena Pharmaceuticals. The lawsuit also names as a defendant CVS Health Co., where Ms. Zottola bought Belviq at a cost of around $300 month. The complaint seeks damages for alleged breach of implied warranty, deceptive acts, false advertising, unjust enrichment, fraud, and conversion.