Pharmaceutical company Eisai was sued alongside Arena Pharmaceuticals in the District of New Jersey on Monday by a plaintiff and his deceased wife, who alleged that the drug companies knew or should have known that Belviq, a prescription drug designed to be paired with diet and exercise to assist weight loss, could cause a risk of cancer.
The complaint recounted that, as a part of Belviq’s development, the drug’s active ingredient was tested on both rats and mice. During those studies, the drug was associated with an increased incidence of tumors; the complaint said that scientific literature also corroborated this concern. The defendants reportedly attributed this to a “rodent-specific phenomenon.”
While the drug’s initial application was rejected by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it was eventually approved. However, the complaint noted that Belviq’s application for approval to be sold in Europe was pulled in 2013, while it had been approved by the FDA.
The complaint explained that, in 2020, the FDA issued a notice that there was a possible increased cancer risk with Belviq, revealed after post-approval studies. The drug was withdrawn from the market by the defendants a month later.
The plaintiffs argued that the drug was neither safe, due to its increased cancer risk, nor effective at reducing weight. As a result of taking Belviq, the complaint explained that the deceased plaintiff suffered from pancreatic cancer.
Specific counts raised against the defendants include product liability, fraud, breach of warranty, violations of New Jersey state consumer protection law, and other claims. They are represented by Douglas & London P.C.