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Drug Safety

Eisai withdraws weight loss pills because of cancer risk

by Ryan Cross
February 22, 2020 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 98, ISSUE 8

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The Japanese drugmaker Eisai is withdrawing its weight loss drug lorcaserin at the request of the US Food and Drug Administration. The FDA approved the drug, sold as Belviq, in 2012 under the condition that Eisai conduct a large study to assess its effect on heart health. After reviewing data from the 12,000-person trial, the agency determined that 7.7% of participants taking lorcaserin developed cancer, compared with 7.1% receiving a placebo. It recommends that people stop taking lorcaserin. Eisai disagrees with the FDA’s conclusion and says the benefits of lorcaserin outweigh the risks.

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