October 8, 2010 – Abbot Laboratories announced today the removal of its diet pill Meridia after a study linked the drug to 16 percent more major cardiovascular side effects among 10,000 high-risk patients who were followed for as long as six years.
The drug was withdrawn in Europe in January while the FDA waited to review more data from the study and sought outside input on a decision. Coupled with the FDA’s clash with European regulators in deciding against a recall of GSK’s diabetes pill Avandia in September, critics say the U.S. agency is increasingly negligent in its public-health mission.
Meridia Side Effects
Meridia was approved in the U.S. in 1997 even as evidence showed it can raise blood pressure and heart rate. Public Citizen petitioned the FDA unsuccessfully in 2002 to ban the diet pill because of reports of heart attacks in young women taking the drug. The FDA added warnings to the drug’s prescribing information in January, saying that it shouldn’t be used by people with a history of heart disease.