In February 2020, the manufacturer of the weight-management drug Belviq (lorcaserin) withdrew it from the market at the request of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This extraordinary step followed the FDA expressing concern that people taking Belviq ran an elevated risk of developing deadly cancers. For answers to specific questions about your legal rights as a person who took Belviq under a doctor’s prescription, contact an experienced Belviq injury attorney today.
If you took Belviq prescribed by your doctor at any time over the past seven years, then you may have the right to take legal action for compensation against the drug’s manufacturer and others. In this blog post, we discuss your potential rights to file or participate in a Belviq lawsuit and how you can get compensated for harm taking Belviq may have caused you and your family.
Belviq Background Information
The FDA approved Belviq for use as a weight-management drug in 2012. The company that developed the drug, Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc., began selling it in mid-2013. Another Japanese drug company, Eisai, Inc., purchased Arena’s worldwide rights to make and market Belviq in 2017.
The medical purpose of Belviq was to help obese and overweight patients lose weight in conjunction with a weight-control regimen that also included reduced calorie intake and increased physical exercise. Belviq was available by prescription only.
In connection with approving Belviq, the FDA required the manufacturer to conduct a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial to assess the potential risk of developing cardiovascular problems from taking Belviq. The trial ran from 2014 to 2018. It did not find any risk of cardiovascular problems.
Unfortunately, in reviewing data from the trial, the FDA discovered evidence linking Belviq to increased risk of pancreatic, colorectal, and lung cancers. The FDA also found evidence that the risk of these cancers increased the longer a patient took Belviq. In early 2020, the FDA raised the alarm about this risk and asked Eisai to withdraw the drug from the market. Eisai disputed the FDA’s interpretation of the clinical evidence, but withdrew the drug.
Belviq: What You Need to Know Now
As of April 2020, three key takeaways that anyone who has taken Belviq needs to know about the health risks they may face are:
- The FDA has determined that the increased cancer risk from taking Belviq outweighs any benefits of the drug. If you currently take Belviq, STOP NOW.
- No matter when you stopped taking Belviq, speak with your doctor immediately about your potential health risks and, if necessary, to develop an alternative weight-management plan.
- Be sure to tell your doctor if you have experienced any of the symptoms associated with pancreatic, colorectal, or lung cancer, as these could be signs of advanced, life-threatening disease.
We have derived the three takeaways above from the FDA’s website. However, they do not constitute medical advice. Only your doctor can provide you with medical care and counseling.
Belviq Harm and Your Legal Rights to Compensation
Patients who have taken Belviq may have legal rights to recover compensation for the actual or potential harm the drug may have caused. Here is a general overview of those rights. For answers to specific questions about the compensation you may recover as a person who took Belviq, speak with an experienced defective drug injury lawyer today.
Legal Liability for Making Dangerous Drugs
It should go without saying that pharmaceutical companies have no right to sell drugs that do more harm to patients than good. Of course, what makes a particular medicine good or bad for an individual patient can get very complicated. A pill that may save the life of one person could cause a fatal illness in another.
Because prescription drugs have such wide-ranging benefits and risks, manufacturers may not sell them in the United States without first having obtained approval from the FDA. The rigorous government review process new drugs undergo aims to make sure that a drug does what the manufacturer claims, and that the benefit the drug can achieve outweighs any potential risk to the people it is intended to treat.
This analysis differs for every type of drug. Chemotherapy drugs, for instance, have well-known toxic properties that cause severe, even life-threatening, side-effects, but the FDA may yet approve them because they are effective at treating an otherwise fatal disease. The FDA might not give the okay to a drug with similar side-effects, however, if it merely treated the common cold.
The FDA review process gives doctors and patients some degree of comfort that a drug is safe to use. But, it is not fail-safe. Sometimes manufacturers do not discover the harmful effects of a drug until after they have gone on the market. Other times, manufacturers wrongfully fail to disclose information about a drug that would change the FDA’s assessment of its safety. When a drug turns out to pose unacceptable health and safety risks, the manufacturer may face legal liability to anyone the drug harmed.
We have not yet learned the entirety of what the manufacturers of Belviq knew, if anything, about its apparent cancer risk. However, given the FDA’s alarming findings of those risks, announced after the FDA examined data from a clinical trial that was intended to screen for an unrelated health condition, it seems possible that Belviq’s manufacturers may yet face significant legal liability for damages to anyone who took it.
Lawsuits Might Generate Compensation for Dangerous Drug Victims
A dangerous drug like Belviq can cause harm in two broad ways. First, it can inflict physical harm, as appears to be the case in the heightened risk of developing certain cancers from taking Belviq. Second, it can inflict emotional harm, by leaving patients who took Belviq to wonder whether the other shoe will drop at some unknown point in the future when they learn that Belviq made them sick with a deadly disease.
Victims of a dangerous drug may have the right to file a lawsuit seeking compensation from the drug’s manufacturer.
People who suffer physical harm—developing cancer, for instance—may have the right to take legal action for a wide range of damages, including compensation for:
- Medical costs associated with the harm inflicted by the drug;
- Lost wages and other monetary damages resulting from the harm; and
- Physical pain, emotional suffering, and diminished quality of life resulting from the harm the drug did.
Every such case differs in its particulars, so there is no way to predict if someone will recover this type of compensation, or if so, how much, without knowing lots more about the circumstances. Speak with an experienced defective drug injury attorney to learn more.
Victims who have not (yet) gotten sick after having taken Belviq may also have the ability to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for, among other damages:
- The costs of medical monitoring for any disease associated with taking the drug, and for costs of treating disease if it develops; and
- Emotional suffering inflicted by not knowing if they will develop the disease.
Oftentimes, victims in this second group may join together to file a class-action lawsuit. Alternatively, people injured by a single drug can file claims against manufacturers of dangerous drugs, resulting in what is called a mass tort. In mass torts, multiple civil cases that share a common issue of fact – such as dangerous drug or medical devices- can be coordinated before one federal or state court. Injured patients that become plaintiffs involved in a mass tort may seek a variety of remedies, including financial compensation, ongoing health monitoring, and a mechanism to make further claims if they suffer a negative health outcome in the future.
The purpose of this kind of legal action is to enable large groups of people who have suffered nearly identical harm to speak with one voice. Speak with an experienced defective drug injury attorney today to learn about your rights as someone who has taken an allegedly dangerous drug.
Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Rights
In the face of the frightening uncertainty generated by news that taking Belviq may have put them at heightened risk of developing a deadly cancer, many people wonder what they can do right now to protect themselves.
Every case is different, of course, but here are three simple suggestions that may help you protect your health, wellbeing, peace of mind, and legal rights:
- As we wrote above, consult your doctor immediately (and, if you still take Belviq, STOP NOW). Follow your doctor’s advice about further steps to take to continue managing your weight and to monitor for any potential health complications.
- After consulting with your physician, locate any records or evidence you have of having taken Belviq and of any side effects, symptoms, or health conditions potentially connected to taking it. And, we mean any records. Pharmacy receipts, pill bottles, medical records, insurance statements, and so on. Ask your doctor for records of the Belviq prescriptions you received, and for any notations in your medical record about you taking the drug. Ask your pharmacy if they will give you a print out of the prescriptions for Belviq you filled. Throw nothing away. If you can keep everything organized, great, but even if you just put all of the materials you collect in a box for your lawyer to sort through, that is fine, too. The idea is to gather and hold on to as complete a record as possible of your history of taking Belviq and of any potential health outcomes associated with it. There is no such thing as too much evidence. Gather up everything, put it in a safe place, and wait for your lawyer to tell you what to do with it.
- Finally, do not sign or agree to anything having to do with any harm you may have suffered from taking Belviq until you speak with an experienced dangerous drug injury attorney. Drug companies tend to go into crisis mode when the FDA forces them to take the radical step of removing a drug from the market. Minimizing their financial exposure to the patients their drug may have harmed becomes a prime focus of their efforts. They may offer settlements to those frightened victims that promise to do right by them. Be aware, however, that the settlement may vastly undervalue the compensation a victim may deserve. Before you agree to anything, talk with a lawyer who can help you understand what the drug company has offered, and what rights it wants you to give up in return.
How an Experienced Dangerous Drug Injury Attorney Can Help You
Obtaining appropriate compensation and benefits from a drug company that sold a dangerous medication usually requires the skill and resources of a dangerous drug injury attorney. The sooner you contact one, the better your chances of protecting yourself and your family.
A knowledgeable attorney can:
- Evaluate your legal rights to seeking compensation, based upon the evidence you possess of having used Belviq and on your doctor’s assessment of your current and future medical condition;
- Explain your legal options, including whether to pursue an individual lawsuit or to join a class action of other patients similar to you;
- Engage in discussions and negotiations on your behalf with drug companies, insurance representatives, and defense attorneys, to achieve a fair and reasonable settlement of your claim; and
- Take your claim to court, if necessary and appropriate, to seek damages in a ruling from a judge or jury.
An attorney cannot guarantee a particular outcome for you. The revelations about Belviq’s apparent connection to deadly cancers just recently occurred. Only time and hard work on the part of experienced attorneys will tell the nature, extent, and dollar-value of any manufacturer’s liability to you and others like you. The important thing is not to wait to make your voice heard. Connecting with a skilled lawyer as soon as possible amplifies your voice and puts you in the best possible position to obtain the compensation and peace of mind you deserve.
Contact a Lawyer Today
Do not get left behind by the legal process that will play out across the United States in the coming months and years, as lawyers for frightened patients and families just like you explore their remedies and compensation for the harm taking Belviq may have done. Contact an experienced dangerous drug injury attorney today to protect yourself and your family from the physical, emotional, and financial harm you may have suffered from taking the drug Belviq (lorcaserin).