Lorcaserin (Belviq ) Withdrawn From US Market Due to Cancer Risk

M. Alexander Otto

February 13, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration asked Eisai to voluntary withdraw the weight-loss drug lorcaserin (Belviq and Belviq XR) on Feb. 13 after a post-marketing trial with more than 12,000 subjects revealed an increased occurrence of cancer.

In a Drug Safety Communication, the agency said "health care professionals should stop prescribing and dispensing lorcaserin to patients. Contact patients currently taking lorcaserin, inform them of the increased occurrence of cancer seen in the clinical trial, and ask them to stop taking the medicine. Discuss alternative weight-loss medicines or strategies with your patients."

Eisai is complying with the withdrawal request.

The decision is based on the agency’s review of the 5-year trial, which was designed to evaluate cardiac risk with the drug and ended in June 2018. In total, 7.7% of patients randomized to 10 mg lorcaserin twice daily were diagnosed with 520 primary cancers, compared with 7.1% of placebo subjects diagnosed with 470 cancers, over a median follow-up of 3 years and 3 months. There was one additional cancer observed for every 470 patients treated for 1 year.

"There was no apparent difference in the incidence of cancer over the initial months of treatment, but the imbalance increased with longer duration on lorcaserin," FDA said. Pancreatic, colorectal, and lung cancers were among those diagnosed.

In short, "we believe that the risks of lorcaserin outweigh its benefits based on our completed review of" the data, the agency said. The FDA is not recommending special cancer screenings for patients who have taken lorcaserin.

The action follows an FDA alert in January about a possible elevated cancer risk based on its preliminary analysis of the study.

Patients were also advised Feb. 13 to stop taking the drug and talk to their providers about alternative weight-loss medications and weight-management programs.

They were also told to dispose of the pills at a drug take-back location if available, but if not, to mix them with an "unappealing substance" such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds; seal them in plastic bag; and put them in the trash.

This article originally appeared on MDedge.com.

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