Meridia Linked to Deaths
Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, is demanding that the prescription diet drug, Meridia, be banned. The group maintains that from the launch of Meridia in February 1998 through March 2003, 49 deaths from cardiovascular disease resulting from taking the diet drug.
In addition to these fatalities, Public Citizen also found that 124 reports were made to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about cardiovascular problems that required hospitalization.
Abbott Laboratories, the manufacturer of Meridia, maintains that the drug was tested extensively for safety. The company stated that obesity itself could have contributed to the reported deaths and health issues – not Meridia.
Public Citizen disagrees. Citing clinical studies used to have the drug approved, Public Citizen points out that patients on Meridia were more likely to have a sustained increase in blood pressure than those patients on a placebo had. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s health research group, stated since high blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease, "that sort of trumps that whole issue that it’s just because they’re fat."
Meridia Warning Label Changes
In May 2009, the FDA announced label changes for Meridia, citing new warnings and adverse reactions. Serotonin syndrome is now listed under the warnings section, along with reactions akin to Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS). Furthermore, a host of adverse side effects were added to the label under the Postmarketing Reports/Nervous System section.
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