Via America’s Lawyer: The weight loss pill, Belviq, pulled from the shelves by the FDA due to an increased risk of cancer. Now other side effects are coming to light as patients are filling more complaints. Attorney Madeline Pendley joins Mike Papantonio to discuss more.

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*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             A weight loss pill pulled from the shelves by the FDA due to an increased risk of cancer. Now, other side effects are coming to light as patients are filing more complaints. We’re joined by Madeline Pendley associate attorney here at Levin Papantonio, to talk about this case. Maddy, we’ve seen so many cases with weight loss. We saw Fen-Phen thousands of people, literally thousands, became ill. Hundreds of them died.

Madeline Pendley:          Right.

Mike Papantonio:             And now the FDA let this thing go through and all this thing is just another way to tell women, hey, lose weight, take this pill and everything’s going to be okay. Give me your take on it.

Madeline Pendley:          So Belviq like you mentioned, it operates almost exactly the same way as Fen-Phen, it’s a serotonin 2C receptor blocker, means it tells the brain we’re not hungry anymore. You can eat less, feel fuller faster and stuff like that. The problem is this drug has reported an increased risk of cancer development, as well as other side effects like mood altering issues like depression and mood swings, diziness, fatigue and so on.

Mike Papantonio:             Right. Well, you know, what’s interesting about this. They, they did a study on this, right?

Madeline Pendley:          Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             They weren’t looking for cancer.

Madeline Pendley:          No.

Mike Papantonio:             They were trying to say there was a complaint that, you know, people were dying from heart problems.

Madeline Pendley:          Right.

Mike Papantonio:             And they’re saying, trying to say, well, this, this doesn’t cause heart problems. So they did this study for the, FDA demanded it, finally did their job and they find out, well, no, it doesn’t cause heart problems, but it’ll kill you with cancer. What kind of cancers?

Madeline Pendley:          Typically it’s lung, pancreatic and colorectal cancers and what’s so interesting and you touched on it. These companies initially submitted their drug to the FDA in 2009 and the FDA blocked it. Like, nope, no way. You guys don’t have a good handle on the side effects that come with this drug. The companies resubmitted it in 2012 and FDA hesitantly was like, okay, you can give it to a limited group of people, but you have to do long-term studies on this to figure out the side effects and these companies did. But in the meantime, this company was actually blocked in Europe in 2013, specifically for increased risk of tumor development in the animal studies. So this, these both companies Arena and Eisai had this information about the tumors in animals in 2013, didn’t tell the FDA and did not disclose it to the public.

Mike Papantonio:             Interesting, the FDA has access to what’s going on around the world.

Madeline Pendley:          Of course.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. It’s not like we’re a bunch of, well, maybe we are a bunch of bumpkins. The FDA certainly looks like bumpkins.

Madeline Pendley:          Appears to be, yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             Most of the time. But it’s not like, if you do a study in Europe, the, the agency over there said, yeah, we looked at this, there’s tumor growth. There’s cancer.

Madeline Pendley:          100%.

Mike Papantonio:             Comes off the market over there. These idiots with the FDA say, oh, we don’t have enough information.

Madeline Pendley:          Right.

Mike Papantonio:             People are taking this stuff like candy to lose weight, just like they did Fen-Phen with all these women died unnecessarily, right?

Madeline Pendley:          Right. And like you said, the FDA one, can communicate with, with Europe, they’re allowed to do that. They’ll get that information. But it also raises the question. Why could Europe’s basically FDA figure this out and ours couldn’t’? They have the same information, the same disclosure from the companies and our company raises their hand and can’t figure it out.

Mike Papantonio:             Here’s the difference. FDA, you can’t give a politician money.

Madeline Pendley:          Right.

Mike Papantonio:             In the United States, we can give a politician, F, the, the, the difference over there is if, if we have a situation where we have some, where we have somebody working for the agency, the company that’s the private company, can’t hire that person. Here, it’s like a revolving door. Sure work with the FDA awhile and then come and work with us, right? Isn’t that a big problem?

Madeline Pendley:          Right. So the FDA completely missed the warning signs on this drug and allowed it to remain on the market for eight years while people took it the entire time.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. So who’s, the people that are filing claims, who, what kind of claims are we seeing?

Madeline Pendley:          Mostly cancer. At this point, we’re not seeing cases for the other injuries, like shortness of breath, fatigue and things like that. And actually in April, the plaintiff attorneys that represent these patients filed for an MDL or a multi-district litigation, which means they’re asking for the cases to be consolidated in front of one judge and arguments were heard on that issue last week.

Mike Papantonio:             What type of thing should be people, I mean, what kind of cancer should people be aware of? First of all, it’s a cancer that has to specifically begin at a particular site, not a metastasis, but as a site cancer. What are they?

Madeline Pendley:          Colon, lung and pancreatic. We’ve also seen some breast cancer cases being filed and no rulings on those yet, but we think colon, pancreatic and lung are the strongest.

Mike Papantonio:             We know this, we know that the serotonin story’s been told again and again.

Madeline Pendley:          Right.

Mike Papantonio:             We know that anytime you mess with, you’re messing with serotonin, you have a whole, a whole host of psychological issues related to it. But here, this is the first time I’ve seen a cancer, I’ve seen a cancer induced kind of pharmaceutical that is for weight, for weight loss. Isn’t this kind of a new thing?

Madeline Pendley:          It is unusual. And like you mentioned, they were initially looking for heart valve issues because that’s what we saw in Fen-Phen and another drug called Redux, I believe. But the cancer issue is specific to this drug.

Mike Papantonio:             Belviq, no surprise. It just goes on and on, doesn’t it?

Madeline Pendley:          Right.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.