Weight loss

Anti-obesity drug banned in Europe

Zone default image Linked to heart disease and stroke

Last night the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority told UK doctors to stop prescribing the anti-obesity drug Reductil, after a large study found it increased the risk of heart attack and stroke.

A large European study involving nearly 10,000 patients concluded that sibutramine, marketed under the brand name Reductil, increased the risk of heart disease and stroke in people with cardiovascular disease.

However, as obesity is already a risk factor for these conditions, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has suspended its use throughout Europe. Any weight loss by people taking the drug was "modest," the EMA said.

Last year, around 86,000 people in the UK were given Reductil.

Dr June Raine, of the MHRA in the UK, said: "Evidence suggests that there is an increased risk of non-fatal heart attacks and strokes with this medicine that outweigh the benefits of weight loss, which is modest and may not be sustained in the long term after stopping treatment.

"Prescribers are advised not to issue any new prescriptions and to review the treatment of patients taking the drug.

"Pharmacists are asked to cease dispensing the medicine.

"People who are currently taking sibutramine are advised to make a routine appointment with their doctor to discuss alternative measures to lose weight.

"There are no health implications if people wish to stop treatment before seeing their doctor."

This article was published on Fri 22 January 2010

Image © Danny Hooks - Fotolia.com

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