The weight loss drug Meridia (sibutramine) has been removed from the market because it has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, the Food and Drug Administration said Friday. The FDA alerted doctors to stop prescribing the drug and consumers to stop taking it.
We first warned about the risks of Meridia 12 years ago and recently reiterated that warning last month, so we applaud the FDA's move to protect consumers from this risky medication.
In addition to Meridia, we’ve long advised against taking weight loss drugs and supplements in general because invariably the benefits are marginal and the side effects risky or troublesome. If you need to lose weight, increasing exercise and limiting portion size when it comes to food are better options.
The FDA underscored that advice in a separate announcement Friday that warned consumers to avoid another product called Slimming Beauty Bitter Orange Slimming Capsules. That dietary supplement illegally contains sibutramine—the active ingredient in Meridia. The FDA said it is aware of several reports of people suffering serious side effects from the Slimming Beauty capsules, including elevated blood pressure, headaches, vomiting, and insomnia.
Gerald Dal Pan, M.D., director of FDA's Office of Surveillance and Epidemiology, said in a statement, "These results, combined with other available safety data raised serious questions about Meridia’s safety for all patient groups."
—Steve Mitchell, associate editor, Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs