The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been altering people that a prescription weight-loss drug called lorcaserin (Belviq) could increase the risk of cancer. However, the agency said it is unclear how big the risk could be.
The drug regulatory body published the alert Tuesday afternoon, stating that there is a “possible increased risk of cancer” while reviewing the drug’s safety.
Belviq was approved in 2012 as a prescription drug for people with obesity who want to lose weight. The drug acts by making people feel full. Lorcaserin is also available in a generic form.
The FDA alert said, “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. We are continuing to evaluate the clinical trial results and will communicate our final conclusions and recommendations when we have completed our review.”
The agency raised concerns after a study conducted by the drug’s manufacturer, Eisai, tracked more than 12,000 participants who received either lorcaserin or a placebo over a period of five years.
“More patients taking lorcaserin were diagnosed with cancer compared to patients taking placebo, which is an inactive treatment,” the FDA said.
“Our evaluation of this potential signal is ongoing, and at this time it is uncertain if lorcaserin increases the risk of cancer,” it added.
However, the FDA said it is unclear what type(s) of cancer was diagnosed during the trial period.
The agency has recommended patients who are taking lorcaserin to check with their doctors about the potential benefits and risks of taking this weight-loss drug. The article originally appeared on mdedge.com.