Following the results of a recent safety trial, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued a warning that the weight loss drug lorcaserin (Belviq) may increase the risk of cancer.
The pharmaceutical company Eisai have voluntarily withdrawn lorcaserin (Belviq, Belviq XR) from the market.
This decision came following a warning from the FDA that Belviq had not passed a recent safety trial, and that there was a possibility that the drug could increase a person’s risk of cancer.
Soon after having issued that warning, the FDA went on to request the drug’s withdrawal from the market, stating that the “potential risk of cancer outweighs the benefits” the drug may bring.
Lorcaserin is a drug designed to aid weight loss in the context of treatments for obesity- and overweight-related health issues. The drug works by reducing a person’s sense of hunger.
In an updated statement, FDA officials note that when they initially “approved lorcaserin in 2012, [they] required the drug manufacturer to conduct a clinical trial to evaluate the risk of cardiovascular problems.”
Following this safety trial, they concluded that the drug was not safe, and that it could possibly make people taking it more likely to develop some forms of cancer.
“A range of cancer types was reported, with several different types of cancers occurring more frequently in the lorcaserin group, including pancreatic, colorectal, and lung.”
The FDA advise people already in possession of Belviq tablets to dispose of them safely. The best way to do this, they say, is to hand them in at an official drug take back location.
If a person is unable to access a take back location, FDA officials suggest disposing of them in the trash, by:
- mixing the tablets with “an unappealing substance such as dirt,” but without crushing them
- sealing this mix into a secured plastic bag or box
- throwing the sealed mix into the trash
People should also “[r]emove or delete all personal information on the prescription label of empty medicine bottles or packaging” before disposing of them.
As for healthcare professionals, the FDA advise them to stop prescribing Belviq, and to immediately contact anyone who may already be using the drug and inform them about the risks it may pose.