A popular weight loss drug, Sibutramine (Meridia) was pulled from the market today by Abbot Labs after recommendation of the FDA. It appears that post-marketing analysis showed increased risk in nonfatal myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) and nonfatal strokes. The study, called the Sibutramine Cardiovascular Outcomes Trial (SCOUT), demonstrated a 16% increase in the risk for serious cardiovascular events such as nonfatal heart attack, nonfatal stroke, the need for resuscitation after the heart stopped, and death in a cohort of patients given sibutramine compared with another given a placebo.
The FDA advised physicians to discontinue prescribing the medication due to the increased cardiovascular risk noted above. Reassuring news is that there are no permanent side effects to the medication and the study reveals that the increased risk returns to normal once the medication is discontinued. This study and previous studies do no show any long-term consequences in patient's taking the medication. There is, also, no withdrawal effect noted with this medication.
This comes as a challenge as there are only a few medications on the market now that are helpful with weight reduction including phentermine, diethylpropion, and the over the counter Orlistat (found in over-the-counter Ali and prescription Xenical. Use of Orlistat has been liked to liver injury in a few patients and needs to be monitored if considering use of this medication.
In light of the findings surrounding sibutramine, the FDA also warned consumers against the use of Slimming Beauty Bitter Orange Slimming Capsules, sold over the Internet, because they contain sibutramine. Interestingly, sibutramine is not listed on the product label.