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In a recently filed product liability lawsuit, a New York woman indicates she developed thyroid cancer caused by side effects of Belviq, a weight-loss pill recalled from the market last year.
The complaint (PDF) was filed by Jennifer Reynolds-Sitzer, and her husband, Kenneth Sitzer, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York on February 8.
According to the lawsuit, like other users of the widely marketed diet pill, Reynolds-Sitzer indicates that she was unaware that the prescription medication may increase her risk of cancer, alleging the drug makers Eisai, Inc. and Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. failed to adequately research and test the medication, and withheld important safety warnings from consumers, doctors and regulators.
Belviq (lorcaserin) was introduced as a new weight-loss medications in 2012, following years of problems linked to earlier prescription weight-loss pills. However, in February 2020, the FDA required the drug makers to issue a Belviq recall after identifying an increased incidence of cancer among users of the medication in post-marketing study data.
Reynolds-Sitzer indicates she first began using Belviq in May 2016, and continued to take the pill through about August of that year. In February 2018, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and alleges Belviq caused the injury.
“When warning of the safety and risks of Belviq, Defendants negligently misrepresented and/or fraudulently represented to Plaintiffs, prescribing physicians, the medical and healthcare community, the Food and Drug Administration and the public in general, that Belviq had been tested and was found to be safe and/or effective for its indicated use despite their knowledge to the contrary,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants concealed their knowledge of Belviq’s defects from the Plaintiff Jennifer Reynolds-Sitzer, her prescribing physician, hospitals, pharmacists, the medical and healthcare community, the FDA, and/or the public in general.”
The lawsuit joins a number of Belviq lawsuits filed over the last year by former users who allege that cancer diagnosed in recent years was a result of the diet drug.
In addition to individual cancer diagnosis lawsuits over Belviq, a number of class action claims have also been filed on behalf of former users who paid about $300 per month for the diet drug, 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 months and years, as former users may be diagnosed with cases of breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer and other injuries.