Product warning issued for weight loss drug Belvic: FDA

02/14/2020 11:41 PM
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Taipei, Feb. 14 (CNA) Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday issued a product warning for the weight loss drug Belviq, after American medical authorities reported on Thursday that clinical trials on the drug's active ingredient, lorcaserin, showed an increased risk of several types of cancer.

In a statement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said clinical testing on individuals taking lorcaserin showed a higher frequency of pancreatic, colorectal and lung cancers.

After being notified of the trial data, the drug's manufacturer, Ensai Inc., submitted a request to voluntarily withdraw it from the market, the statement said.

On Friday evening, FDA division chief Hung Kuo-teng (洪國登) told CNA that only one product containing lorcaserin -- 10 milligram doses of the weight loss drug Belviq -- was approved for sale in Taiwan.

Since the drug is not covered by Taiwan's national health insurance program, there are no exact statistics on how widely it is used, Hung said.

Based on responses from retailers, average annual sales of Belviq are around five million doses, leading the FDA to estimate that roughly 10,000-20,000 people use the drug, Hung said.

Individuals taking Belviq should immediately discontinue their use of the drug, and discuss other possible weight loss strategies with their physician, Hung said.

Meanwhile, Chuang Yi Biotech, the holder of the product's drug permit license in Taiwan, said on Friday that it would instruct domestic medical institutions to stop writing prescriptions for Belviq.

The company said the drug accounts for roughly 60 percent of its annual earnings.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Matthew Mazzetta)


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