Belviq Settlement Discussions Underway, as Cases Put on Hold

Judge approved a four month stay in a Belviq lawsuit, while parties explore global settlement negotiations to resolve cancer claims over the recalled diet drug

While litigation continues to move forward in dozens of Belviq lawsuits being pursued by former users of the recalled diet drug who developed cancer, a federal judge has agreed to stay all deadlines for at least four months, while the parties explore a potential global settlement that may resolve all claims.

Belviq was introduced in 2012, as the first new diet pill allowed on the market in the United States in years. Although it was marketed as safe and effective, a Belviq recall was issued in February 2020, after post-marketing data found that users faced an increased incidence of several different types of cancer.

Over the past two years, Eisai and Arena Pharmaceuticals have faced a steadily growing number of lawsuits alleging that prior use of Belviq caused various types of cancer to develop, including colon cancer, breast cancer, kidney cancer and others.

In an order (PDF) issued last week, U.S. District Judge Anne Conway granted a request filed by the parties to stay all proceedings in a case brought by Colleen Scala, while the parties engage in global settlement negotiations to resolve cases pending in various state and federal courts nationwide.

Scala’s complaint (PDF) was originally filed in April 2021, alleging that she was diagnosed with breast cancer after taking Belviq for about four years for weight loss purposes.

Judge Conway indicated that the parties requested that all proceedings be stayed for at least four months, until August 31, 2022, to conserve judicial resources, time and efforts of the parties.

It is unclear whether a similar stay will be entered in other pending Belviq lawsuits, which are spread throughout various different U.S. District Courts and state courts nationwide, since the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) declined to consolidate the Belviq cases last year.

Belviq Cancer Concerns

Immediately after Belviq was approved by the FDA, safety concerns emerged about the diet drug, and the prominent consumer watchdog group Public Citizen warned in 2012 that there would likely be problems with Belviq. The group predicted at that time that the diet drug would eventually need to be 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 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.

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 are diagnosed and discover that their cancer was caused by Belviq before the recall.

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