KEY POINTS

  • >1 in 3 American adults suffer from obesity
  • When regular physical activity & healthy  eating habits fail, people opt for weight loss pills
  • FDA recalls lorcaserin (Belviq) due to its potential cancer risk

Obesity is a chronic health condition that affects more than one in three Americans. Some individuals struggling with weight issues might not get benefited from regular physical activity and a healthy eating plan alone and their doctors might prescribe medications as part of their weight-control program. The U.S. FDA had approved orlistat (Xenical, Alli), lorcaserin (Belviq), phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia), naltrexone-bupropion (Contrave), and liraglutide (Saxenda) for long-term use.

But, following the results of a recent safety trial, the FDA has issued a warning that lorcaserin (Belviq) might increase one’s risk of cancer. Pharmaceutical company Eisai has voluntarily withdrawn the weight loss pill from the market.

Such a decision has been taken after the FDA issued a warning against Belviq that it hadn’t passed a recent safety trial and that the drug could increase an individual’s risk of cancer.

The potential cancer risk outweighs the benefits

Lorcaserin is a previously FDA-approved weight loss supplement designed to treat obesity and overweight-related health issues. The drug suppresses an individual’s sense of hunger. But, a recently updated statement from the FDA conveyed that, when they initially approved the drug in 2012, they required the drug manufacturer to conduct a clinical trial to evaluate the risk of heart diseases. Post this clinical safety trial, the FDA reported that the drug was not only unsafe but could possibly make people using it more likely to develop certain forms of cancer.

A range of cancer types including pancreatic, colorectal, and lung cancers were associated with lorcaserin use. Healthcare professionals are advised to stop prescribing Belviq and to immediately contact everyone who might be using the pill and inform them about the potential risk of cancer.

How to dispose these unsafe drugs?

 The FDA advises individuals who already are in possession of Belviq tablets to safely dispose them. Here’s what they recommend:

  • Hand them over to an official drug take-back location
  • Mix the pills with an unappealing substance like dirt and dispose them without crushing them
  • Seal them into a secured plastic bag or box and dispose them
  • Remove or delete all kinds of personal information printed on the prescription label of empty pill bottles or packaging before getting rid of them

weight-loss-pill A new prescription weight loss pill has some health officials hopeful. Photo: Pixabay