What does the FDA’s Belviq announcement mean?
The FDA has requested the removal of Belviq (lorcaserin), a weight-loss medicine approved by the FDA in 2012, from the market in the wake of demonstrated increases in the level of pancreatic, colorectal and lung cancer in patients taking the drug as part of a safety study. As a result, the manufacturer, Eisai has submitted a request to voluntarily withdraw the drug.
Although the difference in the rate of cancer between participants using Belviq and those taking the placebo (7.7 percent and 7.1 percent, respectively) was enough to prompt the removal of the drug, the FDA has not issued any cancer screening recommendations for Belviq users. Anyone currently taking the drug should cease use and consult their physician to discuss alternative weight-loss treatments. While it is important to heed the request from the FDA, this decision should not be cause for alarm, nor should it dissuade anyone from seeking healthy weight-loss treatment options for the serious, chronic and treatable disease of obesity.
Craig Primack, MD, FACP, FAAP, FOMA, President of The Obesity Medicine Association