FDA warns of possible cancer risk with lorcaserin


The Food and Drug Administration has issued a Safety Alert regarding the weight-management medication lorcaserin (Belviq, Belviq XR) after results from a clinical trial assessing the drug’s safety showed a possible increased risk of cancer.

FDA written in white letters on a wood background. bankrx/Getty Images

“At this time, the cause of the cancer is uncertain, and we cannot conclude that lorcaserin contributes to the cancer risk. However, we wanted to make the public aware of this potential risk,” the agency said in a press release.

The agency advised that health care providers consider whether the benefits of taking lorcaserin outweighed the potential cancer risk, and that patients currently taking the medication should talk to their providers about the risks.

“We are continuing to evaluate the clinical trial results and will communicate our final conclusions and recommendations when we have completed our review,” the FDA noted in the statement.

Lorcaserin, a serotonin 2C receptor agonist, was approved by the FDA in 2012 at a dosage of 20 mg once daily for use with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity as a means to improve weight loss in adults who are obese or overweight and have at least one weight-related medical problem, such as such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, or dyslipidemia. In July 2016, the agency approved a New Drug Application for an extended-release, once-daily formulation.

Headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, dry mouth, and constipation are the more common adverse effects in patients without diabetes, whereas hypoglycemia, headache, back pain, cough, and fatigue are more common in patients with diabetes. The treatment is contraindicated for pregnancy.

Lorcaserin is distributed by Eisai.*


*Correction, 1/15/2020: An earlier version of this story misstated the manufacturer of lorcaserin.

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