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Meridia Side Effects – Heart Attacks, Cardiovascular Problems

UPDATED: January 9, 2012

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September 2010 Update: NEJM Says New Study Shows That Meridia Should Be Taken Off The Market; Says Diet Drug Is Just Another Flawed Diet Pill

Another flawed diet pill. That's what the editors at the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) recently called Abbott Laboratory's diet drug, Meridia (sibutramine), after a new study revealed that the drug was likely more dangerous than previously thought. The study, conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Topical Medicine, analyzed 10,744 overweight or obese people with heart issues or type 2 diabetes who took Meridia. It concluded that a staggering 4.1% (or 440) of those suffered a heart attack and 2.6% (or 279) suffered a stroke.

Editors at the NEJM strongly believe that Meridia should be taken off the market. They called the diet drug “another flawed diet pill” for which most people lose less than 5% of their body weight, but increase their risk of a heart attack to one in 70 for those who don't have heart issues to one in 52 who already have heart issues. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) will meet on September 15th to decide whether or not Meridia should remain on the shelves.

Meridia Injuries Reported Around The World

The weight-loss drug Meridia has been the subject of a great deal of controversy. After many deaths and serious side effects, the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) has acted slowly in requiring the manufacturer, Abbott Laboratories, to inform health care professionals and the public about the dangers of this drug.

Concerns about Meridia first surfaced in 2002. In March of that year the Italian Ministry of Health suspended sales of the drug in Italy because of deaths related to cardiovascular events. The consumer-protection group Public Citizen filed a petition with the FDA asking that Meridia be banned in the U.S., because the risk of use was greater than the benefit. At that point, concerns were raised about fetal toxicity. In spite of that, the EU regulatory agency recommended that marketing be reinstated in Europe.

The Public Citizen 2002 petition was supplemented in September 2003, but the FDA took no action. In November 2004 David Graham, a safety expert with the FDA, testified at a Congressional hearing. In the course of his testimony he named 5 drugs that the FDA allowed to be marketed in spite of safety concerns. Meridia was one of the drugs named. In August 2005, the FDA finally responded to the Public Citizen petition in a letter that underplayed the risks of Meridia.

In December of 2004 and April 2005 Abbott Laboratories sent letters to health care professionals and pharmacists about the need to monitor blood pressure in patients using Meridia and methods for risk management. The current warnings on Meridia include: • Substantial increases in blood pressure occur in some patients.

  • Blood pressure should be monitored in all patients using Meridia.
  • Meridia should not be used in patients with a history of CAD, stroke, arrhythmia, or CHF.
  • Meridia is not recommended for use by pregnant women.

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