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According to allegations raised in a recently filed product liability lawsuit, side effects of Belviq caused a New York woman to develop thyroid cancer following use of the recalled weight loss drug for several years.
The complaint (PDF) was filed by Deborah Steinman in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on June 11, indicating that Belviq never should have been placed on the market as a prescription weight loss treatment, due to unreasonably dangerous side effects users faced.
Belviq and Belviq XR (lorcaserin) were introduced in 2012, amid serious questions about the safety and effectiveness of the diet 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 issued warnings that resulted in a Belviq recall, after clinical trials identified a potential increased risk for several types of cancer, including pancreatic, colorectal and lung cancer. However, concerns emerged that Belviq side effects may increase the risk of other types of tumors and injuries.
According to the lawsuit, Steinman began using Belviq in November 2014, and continued using the weight loss drug through February 2017. She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in July 2018, which she indicates was a direct result of exposure to Belviq.
The complaint names the manufacturers Eisai, Inc. and Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc., as defendants.
“Defendants negligently and improperly failed to perform sufficient tests, if any, on humans using Belviq during clinical trials, forcing Plaintiff, and Plaintiff’s physicians, hospitals, and/or the FDA to rely on safety information that applies to other chronic weight management treatments, which does not entirely and/or necessarily apply to Belviq whatsoever,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants concealed their knowledge of the defects in their products from the Plaintiff, and Plaintiff’s physicians, hospitals, pharmacists, the FDA, and/or the public in general.”
The case joins a growing number of similar Belviq lawsuits being pursued by individuals 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 thyroid cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer and other injuries.