Meridia, also known as sibutramine or Reductil, Sibutrex and Ectiva, is a weight loss medication prescribed to people who have not been able to lose weight with diet alone and who are medically at risk for certain conditions due to excess weight.  Meridia has been linked to several dangerous side effects, including serious heart and cardiovascular problems.  Meridia side effects include:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Chest pain
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Pounding or irregular hear rate

Two of these possible Meridia side effects – heart attacks and stroke – are the most serious and have triggered numerous studies and reviews by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”).

Meridia Side Effects – Heart Attacks and Strokes

In January 2010, the FDA first announced that it found an increased risk of heart attack and stroke in patients taking Meridia who had a history of cardiovascular disease.  As a result, the European Medical Agency (EMA) advised doctors and pharmacists in Europe to stop dispensing Meridia, citing that “the risks of these medications are greater than their benefits.” 

While the FDA did not ban Meridia, as a result of the increased risk of Meridia side effects, the FDA requested that Abbott Laboratories, the manufacturer of Meridia, add a new “contraindication” to the package insert or label for Meridia.  The new Meridia label included a warning that Meridia is not to be used in patients with a history of cardiovascular disease, including:

  • History of coronary artery disease (e.g., heart attack, angina)
  • History of stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • History of heart arrhythmias
  • History of congestive heart failure
  • History of peripheral arterial disease
  • Uncontrolled hypertension (e.g., > 145/90 mmHg)

The Latest News Concerning Meridia Side Effects – Heart Attacks and Strokes

Recently, the results of a study of Meridia side effects which began in 2002, entitled the Sibutramine Cardiovascular Outcomes Trial (SCOUT), were published in the September 2010 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).  The study involved 10,000 patients with a history of cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes who were taking Meridia to lose weight.  The study was designed to investigate if long-term treatment with Meridia could reduce the risk of serious cardiovascular conditions typically associated with overweight and obese individuals.  However, the results showed a greater risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems in those patients taking Meridia.

The NEJM reported that in return for offering a weight loss of under 9 pounds – less than 5% of the body weight of the overweight participants in the study – the drug had a one-in-70 chance of causing a heart attack or stroke.  People with underlying heart problems had an even higher one-in-52 risk of heart attack or stroke.  The results are alarming since many people who are overweight or obese do not know they have heart problems.

As a result of the recent study, an advisory committee of the FDA will be meeting to determine whether Meridia will remain on the market despite its dangerous side effects. 

Injured by Meridia Side Effects?

If you or a loved one has taken Meridia and suffered a serious side effect associated with Meridia, contact us today to learn more about your legal rights.

Published November 17, 2011 by