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According to allegations raised in a recently filed class action lawsuit, consumers and the medical community were not adequately warned about the potential cancer risks of Belviq, and seek financial compensation for users of the recently recalled diet drug.
Belviq and Belviq XR (lorcaserin) were first introduced as prescription weight-loss treatments in 2012, and have been widely used in recent years following aggressive marketing by the drug makers that promoted the product as safe and effective. However, following an analysis of a post-marketing study, the FDA recently determined that users may experience an increased incidence of pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer and other injuries.
Following an FDA warning issued last month, the drug maker announced a Belviq recall on February 13, and a growing number of consumers are now pursuing damages after paying about $300 per month for the prescription, which was typically not covered by insurance.
In a complaint (PDF) filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on March 27, Barbara Zottola seeks class action status to pursue damages for all users of the prescription weight-loss pill in New York, claiming Esai, Inc., Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and CVS Health Co. knew or should have known about the risk, yet continued to market the drug anyway.
“Worse is that Defendants Eisai and Arena knew, from the early stages of research and development of these medications that they exposed users to high rates of cancer,” Zottola’s lawsuit states. “Eisai and Arena nevertheless pushed the product to market and sold tens of millions of dollars, or more, of these defective medications to Plaintiff and Class members.”
Belviq was designed to help weight loss by producing a feeling of being full, and thus causing users to want to eat less. However, even the makers of the diet pill acknowledged that the precise way Belviq works was not fully understood.
At the time the medication was approved, the FDA required the drug makers to conduct a five year follow up study involving about 12,000 participants to evaluate the potential heart risks associated with the medication. However, researchers identified at least 462 individuals treated with Belviq who were diagnosed with 520 different primary cancers over a median follow up time of three years and three months.
Zottola’s lawsuit alleges that she and other consumers never would have agreed to take the weight loss drug if the drug makers had disclosed the potential cancer risks.
In addition to class action lawsuits for economic loss or medical monitoring, it is widely expected that a large number of Belviq lawsuits are likely to be filed on behalf of individuals diagnosed with cancer, which may have been prevented if warnings and risk information had been provided by the drug makers.
Since the strongest sales for Belviq have come over the past few years, additional cases of pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer and other injuries may be diagnosed in the coming weeks and months.