For the millions of Americans who are struggling to lose weight, there are many options–both pharmaceutical and non pharmaceutical.Ã‚Â When diet and exercise alone have proven to be less than successful, many people will make a visit to their physician to discuss the addition of medications to help the process along. Meridia (sibutramine) is one of the medications that has been used since 1997 to help those on a weight loss mission. Designed to help reduce the amount of fat absorbed by the body, it was hoped to make a difference for the millions of obese Americans who struggle with their weight. Ã‚Â The drug has been shown to help its users loseÃ‚Â only minor amounts of weight however–disappointing numbers betweenÃ‚Â 2% and 5% more than diet and exercise alone.
Just this month the drug was voluntarily pulled from the market and its users were warned to stop using itÃ‚Â immediately due to link between the medication and an increased risk for “cardiovascular events” which includes heart attacks, stroke, and cardiac arrest–for some, it even resulted in death.
The results of a study known as SCOUT–or Sibutramine Cardiovascular Outcomes Trial has prompted quick action by the FDA.Ã‚Â In an era when the FDA often does not move quickly on very many matters, the results of this study were clear cut.Ã‚Â TheÃ‚Â study showed a 16% increase in both fatal and non-fatal heart attacks, strokes and even death in the users of sibutramine.Ã‚Â Compared to others in the study, the control group who did not take the medication, did not demonstrate the same risk. European health care unions discontinued the use of the drug in January of this year, and the estimated 100,000 U.S users are being urged to do the same.
Despite a split decision by the FDA committee–some felt that the medication did not need to be recalled but instead only tagged with a warning, and the other half wanted the drug pulled completely.Ã‚Â In the end, the group still felt that Meridia should be pulled becauseÃ‚Â the panel followed results provingÃ‚Â that the benefits did not outweigh the risks.
If a patient has been taking Meridia, they should see their physician to develop a secondary weight loss plan or alternative and stop taking the medication immediately.Ã‚Â Throw away any unused portion in a non-palatable substance like coffee grounds or kitty litter to make the drug less appealing to children or pets. Dispose of medications safely in the trash in a sealed bag or can and not down the toilet. You may check with your local police department or pharmacy for programs to help you safely destroy unused medications.
The risk of a heart attack, stroke or death is multiplied for the users of Meridia, and stopping the drug asÃ‚Â soon as possible could be key to maintaining proper health. Meridia has been proven to be a dangerous drug.Ã‚Â Patients must take action to protect themselves and their individual health by being their own safety advocate by taking steps to know and understand risks associated with the use of this drug.