FDA asks for Belviq, Belviq XR to be pulled from shelves

The weight loss drug’s manufacturer complied with the request due to an increased occurrence of cancer.

The weight loss drugs Belviq and Belviq XR (lorcaserin) have been pulled from shelves after a request from the FDA due to an increased occurrence of cancer when using the drugs, according to a news release.

The drugs’ manufacturer, Eisai Inc., voluntarily complied with the request.

The FDA says they took the action after reviewing randomized clinical trial data in January which identified the increased possibility of cancer. The drugs were approved in 2012, and a five-year, 12,000 patient clinical trial found increased rates of cancer in those who took the drugs.

The trial found that 462 patients treated with lorcaserin were diagnosed with 520 primary cancers compared to only 462 patients who had taken the placebo. These cancers included pancreatic, colorectal, and lung, according to the FDA.

The trial found that there was not an increased cancer rate in the initial months of treatment with the drugs, but the rate increased over time.

Physicians are asked to stop prescribing and dispensing the drugs to patients and contact any patients currently taking lorcaserin to inform them of the increased occurrence of cancer and ask them to stop taking the medicine immediately while discussing alternative weight loss medicines or strategies, the release says.

Patients should stop taking the drugs immediately and dispose of unused lorcaserin at a drug take back location. If that is not possible, the FDA advises a patient can dispose of the drugs in their household trash but first they should first mix it with “an unappealing substance” like dirt or kitty litter first, the release says.