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Following a Belviq recall issued earlier, a number of product liability lawsuits are being filed by former users who say they developed cancer caused by side effects of the controversial diet drug.
In a complaint (PDF) filed this week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Stephanie Fuller indicates she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, which she alleges was a direct result of exposure to Belviq.
Belviq and Belviq XR (lorcaserin) were introduced as prescription weight-loss treatments in 2012, amid serious questions about the safety and effectiveness of the drug. However, following aggressive marketing efforts by the drug maker, it quickly became widely used among individual attempting to lose weight.
In February 2020, the FDA removed Belviq from the market after clinical trials identified a potential increased risk for several types of cancer, including pancreatic, colorectal and lung cancer. However, concerns emerged that side effects of Belviq may increase the risk of other tumors and injuries.
In the lawsuit filed on June 10, Fuller states she began taking the weight loss drug in August 2018, and continued using it through at least October 2018. However, in June 2019, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which she claims was a direct result of the medication.
Fuller alleges that the drug manufacturers, Eisai Inc., and Arena Pharmaceuticals, recklessly made false and misleading representations about the risks associated with Belviq and failed to adequately research the potential side effects before marketing the diet drug.
“Defendants concealed their knowledge of Belviq’s defects, from Plaintiff, the FDA, the public in general, and/or the medical community specifically,” the lawsuit states. “These representations were made by Defendants with the intent of defrauding and deceiving Plaintiff, the public in general, and the medical and healthcare community in particular, and were made with the intent of inducing the public in general, and the medical community in particular, to recommend, dispense and/or purchase Belviq for chronic weight management, all of which evinced a callous, reckless, willful, depraved indifference to health, safety, and welfare of the Plaintiff herein.”
The case joins other Belviq lawsuits being pursued by individuals nationwide, including claims on behalf of former users who have been diagnosed with cancer, as well as class action claims for individuals who paid about $300 per month for the prescription and now face continuing health risks that require medical monitoring.
Since the strongest sales for Belviq have come over the past few years, it is widely expected that additional lawsuits will be filed in the coming weeks and months, as former users may be diagnosed with cases of breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer and other injuries.