If you have been taking Abbott’s weight loss pill Meridia, you should know that the drug has been found to cause severe heart attack and stroke. Meridia contains Sibutramine, which is recommended for the management of obesity, including weight loss and maintenance of weight loss. The product profile says that it can cause a large increase in blood pressure or heart rate (pulse) in some people. But report, published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), revealed that the patients who took Merdia were vulnerable to heart attacks and strokes, especially those who already had a cardiac problem.
About the study
Researchers analyzed nearly 11,000 obese or overweight people, 55 years or older, with preexisting cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, or both, for a period of about 3.5 years. The participations received either Meridia or a placebo. The research was conducted in a bid to assess the impact of Meridia on high risk people. The results of the study found that-
- People who took Meridia lost around 9 lbs, but at the same time, they were at risk of heart attacks and strokes.
- 4.1% of those taking Meridia and 3.2% of those on placebo had nonfatal heart attacks
- The nonfatal stroke rate was 2.6% in the Meridia group and 1.9% in the placebo group
- According to researchers, that translates into a 28% increased risk of heart attack and a 36% increased risk of stroke in people who took Meridia.
Researchers also found that Meridia did not appear to elevate that risk in diabetics having no history of cardiac problem.
alt="" width="171" height="153" />Opinion of researchers
The study conducted by W. Philip T. James, MD, DSc, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and colleagues, including researchers from Abbott, say the drug should stay on the market as long as it isn’t sold to people with heart conditions.
Opinion of editors of the New England Journal of Medicine
The editors of the New England Journal of Medicine disagreed with the researchers and call Meridia “another flawed diet pill.” They emphasized that the drug offers only 9 pounds weight less, which is less than 5% of the body weight of the overweight participants, however, in return the drug had a one-in-70 chance of causing a heart attack or stroke.
Meridia, which suppresses appetite by regulating the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine, was approved for use in the U.S. in 1997, the FDA included a warning about these risks on the label. FDA expert advisory panel will meet to decide the fate of Meridia drug sale in the U.S. later this month. The FDA panel will make its recommendations on Sept. 15.