Below are some of our videos explaining the potential link between the use of Belviq and the link to various forms of cancer. To learn more about the types of injuries that have been linked to this medication, and the legal claims that have been filed, click Belviq Lawsuits.
FDA Finally Recalls Weight Loss Drug Belviq As Cancer Links Increase
Mike Papantonio: A weight loss pill pulled from the shelves by the FDA due to an increased risk of cancer. Now, other side effects are coming to light as patients are filing more complaints. We’re joined by Madeline Pendley associate attorney here at Levin Papantonio, to talk about this case. Maddy, we’ve seen so many cases with weight loss. We saw Fen-Phen thousands of people, literally thousands, became ill. Hundreds of them died.
Madeline Pendley: Right.
Mike Papantonio: And now the FDA let this thing go through and all this thing is just another way to tell women, hey, lose weight, take this pill and everything’s going to be okay. Give me your take on it.
Madeline Pendley: So Belviq like you mentioned, it operates almost exactly the same way as Fen-Phen, it’s a serotonin 2C receptor blocker, means it tells the brain we’re not hungry anymore. You can eat less, feel fuller faster and stuff like that. The problem is this drug has reported an increased risk of cancer development, as well as other side effects like mood altering issues like depression and mood swings, diziness, fatigue and so on.
Mike Papantonio: Right. Well, you know, what’s interesting about this. They, they did a study on this, right?
Madeline Pendley: Yeah.
Mike Papantonio: They weren’t looking for cancer.
Madeline Pendley: No.
Mike Papantonio: They were trying to say there was a complaint that, you know, people were dying from heart problems.
Madeline Pendley: Right.
Mike Papantonio: And they’re saying, trying to say, well, this, this doesn’t cause heart problems. So they did this study for the, FDA demanded it, finally did their job and they find out, well, no, it doesn’t cause heart problems, but it’ll kill you with cancer. What kind of cancers?
Madeline Pendley: Typically it’s lung, pancreatic and colorectal cancers and what’s so interesting and you touched on it. These companies initially submitted their drug to the FDA in 2009 and the FDA blocked it. Like, nope, no way. You guys don’t have a good handle on the side effects that come with this drug. The companies resubmitted it in 2012 and FDA hesitantly was like, okay, you can give it to a limited group of people, but you have to do long-term studies on this to figure out the side effects and these companies did. But in the meantime, this company was actually blocked in Europe in 2013, specifically for increased risk of tumor development in the animal studies. So this, these both companies Arena and Eisai had this information about the tumors in animals in 2013, didn’t tell the FDA and did not disclose it to the public.
Mike Papantonio: Interesting, the FDA has access to what’s going on around the world.
Madeline Pendley: Of course.
Mike Papantonio: Okay. It’s not like we’re a bunch of, well, maybe we are a bunch of bumpkins. The FDA certainly looks like bumpkins.
Madeline Pendley: Appears to be, yeah.
Mike Papantonio: Most of the time. But it’s not like, if you do a study in Europe, the, the agency over there said, yeah, we looked at this, there’s tumor growth. There’s cancer.
Madeline Pendley: 100%.
Mike Papantonio: Comes off the market over there. These idiots with the FDA say, oh, we don’t have enough information.
Madeline Pendley: Right.
Mike Papantonio: People are taking this stuff like candy to lose weight, just like they did Fen-Phen with all these women died unnecessarily, right?
Madeline Pendley: Right. And like you said, the FDA one, can communicate with, with Europe, they’re allowed to do that. They’ll get that information. But it also raises the question. Why could Europe’s basically FDA figure this out and ours couldn’t’? They have the same information, the same disclosure from the companies and our company raises their hand and can’t figure it out.
Mike Papantonio: Here’s the difference. FDA, you can’t give a politician money.
Madeline Pendley: Right.
Mike Papantonio: In the United States, we can give a politician, F, the, the, the difference over there is if, if we have a situation where we have some, where we have somebody working for the agency, the company that’s the private company, can’t hire that person. Here, it’s like a revolving door. Sure work with the FDA awhile and then come and work with us, right? Isn’t that a big problem?
Madeline Pendley: Right. So the FDA completely missed the warning signs on this drug and allowed it to remain on the market for eight years while people took it the entire time.
Mike Papantonio: Okay. So who’s, the people that are filing claims, who, what kind of claims are we seeing?
Madeline Pendley: Mostly cancer. At this point, we’re not seeing cases for the other injuries, like shortness of breath, fatigue and things like that. And actually in April, the plaintiff attorneys that represent these patients filed for an MDL or a multi-district litigation, which means they’re asking for the cases to be consolidated in front of one judge and arguments were heard on that issue last week.
Mike Papantonio: What type of thing should be people, I mean, what kind of cancer should people be aware of? First of all, it’s a cancer that has to specifically begin at a particular site, not a metastasis, but as a site cancer. What are they?
Madeline Pendley: Colon, lung and pancreatic. We’ve also seen some breast cancer cases being filed and no rulings on those yet, but we think colon, pancreatic and lung are the strongest.
Mike Papantonio: We know this, we know that the serotonin story’s been told again and again.
Madeline Pendley: Right.
Mike Papantonio: We know that anytime you mess with, you’re messing with serotonin, you have a whole, a whole host of psychological issues related to it. But here, this is the first time I’ve seen a cancer, I’ve seen a cancer induced kind of pharmaceutical that is for weight, for weight loss. Isn’t this kind of a new thing?
Madeline Pendley: It is unusual. And like you mentioned, they were initially looking for heart valve issues because that’s what we saw in Fen-Phen and another drug called Redux, I believe. But the cancer issue is specific to this drug.
Mike Papantonio: Belviq, no surprise. It just goes on and on, doesn’t it?
Madeline Pendley: Right.
FDA Knew Of Cancer Risk Years Before Belviq Recall & NY Court Ruling Aims To Discipline Officers
Mike Papantonio: A popular weight loss drug sold under the brand name Belviq has been voluntarily recalled after a strong link between the drug and certain types of fatal cancers. And I have Steve Luongo here to talk to me about that, who’s handling this case, Steve, first of all, let me, let me clear something up. There is no such thing as a voluntary recall, you understand that.
Stephen Luongo: Absolutely.
Mike Papantonio: The company likes to say we voluntarily took it off the market. No, it’s the FDA said, either you take it off the market, are you going to be, have sanctions or whatever. Again, this is another story where the FDA failed to do their job, isn’t it? Take it from there. What is Belviq? What kind of injuries are we talking about?
Stephen Luongo: Absolutely. So let’s start from the beginning. Belviq is a prescription weight loss drug and what it was designed to do is combat, combat obesity, type two diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure. And what it does is it attacks the serotonin levels in the user. So it manipulates and tricks your mind into thinking that you’re full without actually having to eat any food.
Mike Papantonio: Well, I handled the cases early on. I tried the Fen-Phen cases. The Fen-Phen cases was a weight loss program that was going to be the new secret to losing weight. It killed hundreds of women. Again, it was another situation where the FDA had all the information they needed, failed to do their job. In this situation, Belviq was, the FDA said no, in 2012, right? They said.
Stephen Luongo: 2010.
Mike Papantonio: 2010, they said, no, you can’t sell the drug. It was, I think, five to nine on the committee that said that. They reviewed everything said, this, first of all, it doesn’t work. Second of all, it’s dangerous. And then after, so you have a political change. They come back Belviq comes back and says, hey, you know what, we want another shot and the FDA says, oh, sure. The one we turned down, the one we said no to, you can sell it now. Take it from there.
Stephen Luongo: Right. And you’re exactly right. It’s the same product that was denied by the FDA in 2010 was passed and approved in 2012. So what changed? Nothing changed except the people approving it. And in fact, when they denied it in 2010, the issues were, does this drug even work and is it worth the cost benefit analysis? In which time they knew based off a New York Times article that these laboratory rats were developing cancer or tumors that potentially could be cancerous at that time. So they were aware of back in 2010 of the cancerous and the carcinogen nature of this drug, the lorcaserin.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah. And it doesn’t stop there. I mean, this is a drug where they found a history of people having suicidal thoughts, uncontrolled bleeding, men were growing breasts from it. You had blood, you had blood sugar problems that were putting people in, in, in, in sometimes comas. This is, this, but you had cancer. And the, the FDA knew all of that and they come in the second time and they start taking the word of the company. What is the company, Eisai?
Stephen Luongo: The, the company is Eisai. It was originally developed by Arena Pharmaceuticals, a San Diego based company. In 2017, it was sold to Japanese pharmaceutical Eisai in which they really pumped up the advertising, got the sales increased to where eventually Belviq, Belviq was the number one drug in the market at that time.
Mike Papantonio: Okay. So as this, you know, I’d like to say that this is just a one-off kind of situation, but we’re seeing it more and more, Steve. You handle these cases. You understand that when you’re dealing with the FDA, you may as well not have any comfort in what the FDA does. Most people in this business say that if a drug is not on the market for more than 10 years, don’t touch it. What is your thought on that?
Stephen Luongo: Well, that’s exactly right, because we’re dealing with the FDA and the way that they got the approval was saying, hey, go ahead and do this five-year study. We’re going to go ahead and approve you, but go ahead and do five years and see what the cardiovascular effects of this drug are. Lo and behold, now we know people are coming down with cancer, mostly pancreatic, colorectal and lung cancer, but there’s a variety of cancers that are being affected by the people who are taking this drug.
Mike Papantonio: Totally unnecessary drug.
Stephen Luongo: Absolutely.
Mike Papantonio: This, this drug serves no purpose whatsoever. There are drugs out that, that can accomplish the same thing that don’t kill you, but Belviq is out there saying, oh, we’ve got this new drug. Look, if you’re taking the drug, if somebody’s out there taking the drug, what do they need to do? How do they protect themselves?
Stephen Luongo: Right. Stop immediately, contact your pharma, your, your, stop. They need to stop immediately. They need to contact their doctor and see what the alternatives are. As far as doctors that are prescribing it, they should have been stopped prescribing it as it was taken off the market a year ago and to talk about the alternatives with their patients as well.
Mike Papantonio: And get screened.
Stephen Luongo: Exactly.
Mike Papantonio: How about something as just go get screened. Find out what these cancers are. Go get screened for the cancer, especially if you’ve been taking it a long time. Steve, thank you for joining me, okay.
Stephen Luongo: Yes sir.
Mike Papantonio: And finally tonight, some good news. A court in New York has ruled that police unions can no longer hide the complaints made about their officers. I have Farron Cousins joining me again to talk about this. Farron, welcome back. I look at this case, I have, it’s, it makes me scream to think that doctors have the same protection where I don’t care how bad they screw up, you can’t get to that information without a lawsuit. Lawyers have the same protection, again, I don’t care how bad the lawyer, how dishonest the lawyer is, you can’t get to that information. So here we finally are paying attention to police officers that have killed people unnecessarily in the past, injured people, bad conduct. We can’t even look at their files. Now we, there’s a possibility, huh?
Farron Cousins: You know, and this is really great. And unfortunately, it’s only for New York city or at the moment, hopefully this does get expanded. It also applies to firefighters and other first responders and those are the kinds of things we need to know. These are the people who are walking around, the police officers, heavily armed. You know, we have watched them in footage over the last year, literally just run over people because they were in their way. We need to know who they are and more importantly, we need to be able to keep track of them because a lot of ways, these police departments act kind of like the Catholic church does. Whenever somebody gets caught doing something bad, well, you, you work over here now. You’re in this department. You’re in this diocese. And police departments across the country do the same thing because nobody can keep track of who they are or where they are.
Mike Papantonio: Okay. So they move the policemen behind a desk for awhile and then after he at behind a desk for awhile, they move him back into the street. Nobody knows what the person did. Here’s where we really see it. When we have a horrible event, unnecessary shooting, unnecessary injury, conduct by the police and we want to initiate a lawsuit, you outta to see what it takes to get to the police officer’s file. Unions for the police officers have made it virtually impossible to do that. I’m all for unions, but unions have got to have a common sense understanding about what it means when you hide the history on people like this.
Farron Cousins: Right. The, the police unions don’t operate like typical unions where it’s, we’re fighting for good benefits. No, you’re fighting to not be accountable is what the police unions do and it’s good that they suffered this loss. It’s good that people are going to be able to see what happens because we need to know what happens and we need to be able to check up and make sure that the person who has all these complaints against them, whether it’s, you know, unnecessary force or even sexual assault for some of these officers.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah.
Farron Cousins: We need to make sure that it has been properly handled and if not, file lawsuits or whatever we can do.
Mike Papantonio: Farron Cousins, thanks for joining me again.
Farron Cousins: Thank you.
Popular Weight Loss Drug Recalled Due To Possible Cancer Link
Farron Cousins: According to new reports, Belviq a popular weight loss drug, might actually be linked to several different forms of cancer and the FDA has actually issued a voluntary recall of both Belviq and Belviq XR. Joining me now to talk about what’s happening is Scott Hardy with Top Class Actions and Scott, we see this happen quite frequently with weight loss drugs. Comes out years later after they’d been on the market for quite some time, significant problems arise. I mean, we saw it with fen-phen and now we’re seeing it with this Belviq. So tell us what the FDA is essentially trying to warn everybody about right now.
Scott Hardy: Sure. So it’s interesting. Back in 2012 the FDA ran a large clinical trial and they were checking for cardiovascular risks. They wanted to see if Belviq and Belviq XR would have resulted, those folks who are trying to lose weight, have heart problems. But it turns out that they didn’t have heart problems, but they had a much higher risk of cancer and so they actually saw cancer developed and they did this study of around 12,000 patients. So it was, you know, it’s, it’s a fairly large study as these go and then found that they were much more likely to develop things like, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer. And so if you took Belviq or Belviq XR and or a, a loved one did, and developed cancer while they were on it or after they were on it, you really want to talk to a lawyer and see what your options are because it turns out that it, it very may well have been caused or encouraged by Belviq. At least, that’s what these FDA studies appear to show.
Farron Cousins: And you mentioned this study, 12,000 patients studied in this study over the course of five years. It was a double blind placebo control, I mean, basically about as accurate as you can get in terms of a scientific study. I mean that and, and huge obviously sample size here. So there’s really not a whole lot of margin of error with the way this study was conducted. They did it exactly the way they should with all pharmaceuticals. Did it over a long enough period of time, you know, controlled for placebos and the double blind, I mean it was, it was perfectly done. And yeah, they found that wow, people on this medication are developing these cancers at a significantly higher rate than those in the placebo and that’s not even what they were looking for. They wanted to see is this going to affect your heart, is your cardiovascular system going to be in trouble?
And so, you know, the FDA finally obviously came out and said, okay, well we’ll voluntarily recall it, which basically just means if you’re on this or if the company feels like it, go ahead and stop taking it. I, that’s not good enough. I mean the, the, the science is becoming clearer as, as it goes on, this thing is causing cancer based on all of the available evidence. This, in my opinion, shouldn’t be a voluntary recall. It should absolutely be completely recalled at this point. But maybe we’ll get there. Maybe we won’t. But I think these studies are pretty significant here.
Scott Hardy: They really are and so we’ll have to see, you know, how many people truly are impacted by this. Our initial outreach has found that, you know, just a handful of people have reached out saying they’re impacted. So we’ll have to see how many people actually were taking Belviq and Belviq XR and of course, how many of those folks developed cancer. If they developed cancer, they definitely want to connect with an attorney. They can, they can talk to us, they can, you know, do some Googling on their own. But it’s worth checking into because this is going to be a major topic, especially when we look at the trial lawyers over the course of the next year to see how many people are really out there that are impacted.
Farron Cousins: Absolutely, these things always kind of start small and then they will snowball. So we will likely see that happening, especially as the media, you know, starts to pick up this story and informs people of what’s actually happening. That’s when we’ll probably see the influx of people saying, oh my God, I was on this medication. I developed cancer. I need to make that phone call now. So that’s likely what’s going to happen probably in the next 6 to 12 months. This story will get picked up. People will understand, understand the risks, and we’re going to see a lot more people filing for this.
But in the meantime, as Scott mentioned, if you or a loved one have taken this medication, follow the link in the description of this video. Head over to Top Class Actions, get all the information you need about this, and might want to bookmark this page and come back to it in the future. Share it with people. This is going to be very important and likely going to be a big litigation in the near future. Scott Hardy, Top Class Actions, thank you very much for talking with us.
Scott Hardy: You’re welcome. Thanks for your time, Farron.