Meridia (sibutramine) being removed from the US market

From CNN:

Abbott Laboratories has agreed to take its obesity drug Meridia (sibutramine) off the market, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Friday.

The company voluntarily withdrew the drug because clinical trial studies showed there was an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes in people who used the drug. […]

Approved in 1997 for weight loss, the original data on the drug showed that people who took Meridia lost at least 5 percent more of their body weight than people who were on a placebo and relied on diet and exercise alone.

The FDA requested the company withdraw the drug, after reviewing data from a follow-up study known as the Sibutramine Cardiovascular Outcomes Trial (SCOUT ). It showed there was a 16 percent increase in the risk of serious heart events, including non-fatal heart attack, non-fatal stroke, and death, in a group of patients given Meridia as opposed to others given a placebo.

Hopefully the increased risk of heart attacks and strokes will return to normal if the drug is discontinued.

8 thoughts on “Meridia (sibutramine) being removed from the US market

  1. Hmmm… 5% extra weight loss vs 16% increase in chance of stroke or heart attack.

    When the risks outweigh the benefits (pun intended) to that degree, I think there’s a big problem.

    I’m glad Abbott Laboratories decided to remove Meridia from store shelves, but I have to say I’m a bit disgusted it’s taken 13 years for them to recognize their drug is harmful to so many people.

    Why was it approved in the first place?

  2. You know, every time I see an article like this I really start to wonder how much of the supposed “risks of obesity” is a result of obesity, and how much is a side effect of all the crap we put our bodies through trying to “cure” our obesity so that we can hopefully avoid all the things they tell us we’ll get.

    I mean, really look at all the recalls and side effects of diet drugs… almost all of them involve heart problems, strokes, etc. Which is the exact thing we’re being told will happen if we don’t lose weight. For that matter, while they don’t cause “high cholesterol” isn’t the reason we’re supposed to be living in terror of having high cholesterol is that it causes heart attacks? So theres that heart connection again.

    Granted I haven’t seen any list increased risk of diabetes. But then, there have never been any studies as to if being fat causes diabetes, diabetes causes weight gain, or if both of them are symptoms of something else which may or may not be controllable by the person who has it. All of the studies just start with the assumption that of course being fat causes diabetes, so all thats left to look at is what we can do to prevent/cure fatness. I’ve never seen any other studies. Could be wrong though.

    Even dieting, wasn’t there a study last year that showed that consistently restricting calories caused heart problems if taken to extremes or done for too long or something like that? I thought I’d bookmarked it, but I can’t find it now. So even dieting itself could cause heart issues which, if you’re fat, will be blamed on the fat and not the attempts to “cure” it.

    Probably just randomly babbling at this point… I guess in closing, I wish that weight loss drugs were more controlled. I mean, I doubt they would approve an asthma drug that was only 5% more effective than a placebo but caused 16% more side effects, so why is that an acceptable standard for weight loss?

    • I find this connection riveting and am not surprised it seems to be roundly ignored-if you can ignore the reality that DDW, you can ignore anything.

      Cranking up the metabolism having some connection to what are much touted as ‘obesity related’ risks, is clearly no coincedence.

      I don’t bet, but I would bet heavily that there is a direct and intimate connection there.

      Let’s see how long the pretence continues that this has not been noticed.

  3. Meridia off the market? *happy dance!* One more drug that promised so much help and ended up causing more problems than you started with. Tell that to the very real people who suffered the strokes and heart attacks. Some of them may have even lost their lives. And the loved ones who cared for them? I’m sure they’d rather have their fat Mom/Wife/Sister/Friend alive than six feet under or recovering from the effects of a stroke/heart attack.

    And, to answer Erin’s question…..dieting CAN and often does cause the loss of heart tissue. It’s hyperbolic to believe that calorie restriction will force the body to only take energy from fat cells. Because the body seems to have this way of wanting to keep fat on the body. I once watched this show that talked about how the brain can signal specific cravings for those in extreme physical crisis, like floating on a life raft, or getting lost in a cave for weeks. In the life rafter’s case, though he had plenty of fish to eat that he caught with tools from the raft, when his brain detected a deficiency in certain nutrients, it sent cravings for things like fish eyeballs, scales, fins, fish liver, and other odd parts that most people throw out. The man stuck in a cave had lost 40 lbs in a month, but also developed cravings for salt and dirt, which he got from the cave floor and walls. His brain also went into preservation mode and drastically reduced his heart rate, metabolism, and blood flow, which helped save his life.

    It’s amazing what the body will do to preserve it’s life! Yet people continue to believe that all fat people need to do is eat less and exercise more…even though the very strong, very carnal, very innate mechanisms of the body fight it every step of the way. It’s time to focus on treating fat people at the state they are in right now. Why not research ways of treating health problems of people who are fat right now? Why not focus on better methodologies with the fat patient? Why not develop better surgical procedures on fat people? Treatment that focuses on the health problem that just happens to be housed within a fat person? All too often the mindset seems to be “Let’s get rid of some of this fat so I can treat you”, and true healing doesn’t even stand a chance. In the face of all these “treatments”, life expectancy has gone UP, in spite of all the fears that the great big beastly fatties (like myself) are all going to drop dead any minute. Boggles.

  4. Pingback: Well, well, well. Another weight loss drug bites the dust. « The Fat Chick Diaries

  5. The truly sad part is that there are plenty of people out there who are willing to risk their lives to lose weight. If by some biological miracle Meridia actually worked and caused significant weight loss but caused some awful side effect (even a risk of death) I wonder how many people would still roll those dice.* The FDA moved in largely because the drug doesn’t work particularly well!

    * cf. weight-loss surgery, with its enormous risk of complications and death.

  6. ” If by some biological miracle Meridia actually worked and caused significant weight loss but caused some awful side effect (even a risk of death) I wonder how many people would still roll those dice.* ”

    Plenty of people would, because we do all the time with many, many different drugs. Look at some of the commonly used prescription medications–the lists of common side effects are staggeringly long. Many drugs still on the market have the exact same possible side effects that Meridia does. The only difference is, with Meridia, the FDA felt the possible harm outweighed the benefit.

    “* cf. weight-loss surgery, with its enormous risk of complications and death.”

    See above–the risk of death doesn’t seem like a huge deterrent for a a lot of people. Look at the number of people having cosmetic surgery. It’s surgery, with all the attendant risks of any surgery. Yet people are willing to roll the dice, the same as they will with medications.

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