Heart attack and stroke risk increase by nearly 16% in users of Meridia and the FDA is taking action to protect the public.
The weight loss industry is a multi million, sometimes billion dollar industry.Â In a world where people are heavier than they have ever been before,Â many people reach out to the medical world for help.Â A culture of fast food and sedentary lifestyles has assisted many people as their weight spirals out of control. Whether it is a surgical intervention, or medications there are risks involved and the FDA is bringing to light new concerns about one of these treatments.Â The popular drug Meridia–taken as a pill was designed to help its users lose weight by effecting the centers of the brain and certain mechanisms that make a person feel full.
In a variety of medical journals, the use of Meridia has clearly documented risks. The New England Journal of Medicine reported in September of last year that the drug raised the risk of heart attack or stroke by as much as 16% and another study conducted by employees of Abbott reported an 11% increase and no real weight loss benefit to its users.Â The FDA has linked 17 deaths to the drug–mostly in women with an average age of 43 years.
While the drug label did warn that Meridia should not be used in patients with cardiovascular risks, this did not stop many people from obtaining it.Â Some study authors began to lobby for its removal from the market once results were noted, however Abbott laboratories maintained that â€œits benefit was outweighed by the risk,â€ and that label changes warning of its cardiovascular risks â€œdoesnâ€™t change the fact that itâ€™s safe for patients when used strictly according to its label.â€Â Simply considering the population group that the drug was designed for brings to light the challenge of finding patients who met the criteria for its use, given that cardiovascular disease often comes hand-in-hand with obesity.
The decision by an FDA panel was split–eight wanted the drug recalled and the remaining members supported a variety of changes including black box warnings, restricted sales or more closely monitoring users of the drug.Â However in the end, the FDA was able to pressure Abbott into removing the drug from the market immediately.
Meridia made Abbott labs $80 million last year–with $20 million being sold in the United States alone.Â This is not the first weight loss drug controversy–in the mid 1990â€™s the popular drug â€œPhen Phenâ€ and others like it were pulled for similar dangers.Â Meridia was released very soon after other drugs were recalled and marketed to be different than the generations before.