Diet Drug Meridia Shown to Increase Heart Attack and Stroke Risk

Another diet drug has been shown in a clinical trial to significantly increase the risk for heart attack and stroke among its users. Abbott, the maker of diet drug Meridia, sponsored the study which showed the increased heart attack and stroke risk among those with underlying heart disease. However, the drug generically known as sibutramine has been banned in Europe. The brand name in Europe was Reductil.
An FDA panel will meet later this month to decide if Meridia should remain on the US market. The FDA decision will have to deal with conflicting testimony since the study’s authors, including W. Philip T. James, MD, DSc, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, believe Meridia should remain on the market as long as it is not used by those with underlying heart conditions. However, the editors of the influential New England Journal of Medicine disagree and are calling for an outright ban of the diet drug. The two conflicting points of view have been published in the September 2nd edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The Journal’s editorial opinion seems compelling in that it reasons many patients who are obese have undiagnosed heart issues and that Meridia has not shown significant benefit to those trying to lose weight. According to WebMD which quotes the Journal editorial, “Since “the modest weight loss with [Meridia] did not translate into clinical benefit,” the editors say, “it is difficult to discern a credible rationale for keeping this medication on the market.”
The FDA panel is scheduled to make its decision by September 15.