FDA calls for withdrawal of weight loss drug Belviq after trials find cancer link

The US Food and Drug Administration has asked the maker of Belviq and Belviq XR to take the weight loss drugs off the market after clinical trials showed an increased incidence of cancer among users.

Eisai Co., the maker of Belviq, has agreed to withdraw the drug, the FDA said.

The FDA announced last month it was reviewing trial results on the prescription drug, also known as lorcaserin, an oral medication for obese adults, because of potential cancer risks. The agency Thursday asked people to stop taking the drug.

The “potential risk of cancer associated with the drug outweighs the benefit of treatment,” Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement.

The agency said in a separate news release that clinical trials showed lorcaserin increased the risk of a number of cancers, including pancreatic, colorectal and lung.

“As noted in a new Drug Safety Communication issued today, patients should stop using the medication Belviq and Belviq XR (lorcaserin) and talk to their health care professionals about other treatment options for weight loss,” Woodcock said, adding that doctors should stop prescribing the drugs.

The FDA is not recommending any special cancer screenings for people who are currently taking the drug or may have in the past.

The FDA approved lorcaserin in 2012 and made the medication available the following year, but continued clinical trials on the drug to evaluate cardiovascular risks. Instead, it found an increased cancer risk.