Meridia and stroke

Losing weight is really easy–just look at all those authors who’ve gone broke writing  diet books.  Wait a minute; I got that twisted around.  Losing weight is tough and quite a few folks have become celebrities through their diet books.  This time of the year is no joke for those of us inclined to gain weight, so no more vain attempts at humor.  The pharmaceutical industry gave the magic diet pill a whirl, but Redux and Fen-phen imploded with reports of serious cardiovascular problems and had to be withdrawn from the market in 1997.  Then along came Meridia to fill the void.

We treat a lot of patients with stroke at Atlanta Hyperbaric, but we are the first to admit that hyperbaric oxygen therapy for stroke is a little bit like closing the barn door after the horse runs away.  It is always better to prevent strokes than treat strokes and obesity is an undisputed risk factor for stroke.  It would be great if a  diet pill with minimal risk really did exist.

Meridia is about the only drug left on the market for treatment of obesity, so it was a little disheartening to read that the drug may be associated with a small, but increased risk of cardiovascular complications, including stroke. The FDA reported the findings last month but has not ordered any labeling changes.  The results are considered preliminary.   The agency said that although its analysis of the data is ongoing, the findings “highlight the importance of avoiding the use of sibutramine [Meridia] in patients with a history of coronary artery disease (heart disease), congestive heart failure (CHF), arrhythmias, or stroke, as recommended in the current sibutramine labeling.”

Sorry to throw cold water on the holiday cheer.  It looks like its back to the jiu jitsu academy after New Years.


About Public Protection Lawyer

lawyer and physician
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