Belviq Lawsuit Blames Recalled Diet Drug for Kidney Cancer

The diet drug was recalled early last year following preliminary clinical trial data linking it to an increased risk of cancer, and sparking hundreds of Belviq lawsuits.

A North Carolina manhas filed a lawsuit alleging that he developed rkidney cancer from the recalled diet drug Belviq, indicating that the drug makers ignored problems with the medication and placed consumers at an unnecessary risk.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Billie Kent in New Jersey state court on December 29, presenting claims against Eisai, Inc. and Arena Pharmaceuticals as defendants.

Belviq was approved by the FDA in 2012, as the first new diet pill allowed on the market in the United States in years. Although the medication was introduced after a series of recalls and problems were associated with other weight-loss medications, the lawsuit indicates the drug makers did not disclose that they failed to properly test or study Belviq for cancer risks, rendering warnings provided with the medication inadequate.

In February 2020, the FDA required a Belviq recall, after identifying an increased incidence of cancer among users of the diet drug in post-marketing study data.

Kent’s Belviq lawsuit indicates he was prescribed the diet drug in June 2016, and took it until at least November 2016, unaware the drug carried a significantly increased risk of cancer. She was diagnosed with kidney cancer in September 2017.

The decision to allow Belviq on the market was controversial, and the consumer watchdog group Public Citizen warned in 2012 there would likely be problems with Belviq, predicting the diet drug would eventually be discontinued and removed from the market, like a number of other previously-approved weight-loss treatments.

In July 2019, an expert analysis of clinical trial data was published by the American College of Cardiology, which looked at the effectiveness and side effects of Belviq, including the largest concern at the time: cardiovascular risks.

While not publicly announced until months later, the data contained concerning indications about a potential link between Belviq and pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer and lung cancer. However, the FDA did not issue Belviq cancer warnings until January 2020, and several weeks later it was determined the weight loss drug needed to be removed from the market.

“Plaintiff’s use of Belviq caused or significantly contributed to his development of kidney cancer, which has permanently changed his life. By reason of the foregoing, Plaintiff had to undergo significant treatment and now requires constant and continuous medical monitoring and treatment due to the defective nature of Belviq,” Kent’s lawsuit states. “Plaintiff could not have reasonably discovered that Belviq was the cause of his kidney cancer until at least January 2020, when the FDA announced it was reviewing clinical trial data and alerted the public about a possible risk of cancer associated with Belviq based on its preliminary analysis of the clinical trial data.”

Kent’s case joins hundreds of similar Belvic lawsuits filed over the past two years, most involving claims by former users diagnosed with kidney cancer, thyroid cancer, pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer or other injuries blamed on side effects of the medication.

Since the strongest sales for Belviq came over the last few years the drug was on the market, it is widely expected that additional lawsuits will be filed in the coming months and years, as former users continue to develop injuries and learn that the problems may have been caused by their prior use of Belviq.

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