Bye Bye Reductil

By Samantha Thomas

This article was first posted on Sam's web site,

So finally the drug Reductil has been banned here in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Some of you may know Reductil as Sibutrimine or Meridia. This drug has also just been banned by the Federal Drug Administraion in the USA, and has also just been banned in a number of other countries, including Taiwan. This drug, manufactured by Abbot Parmaceuticals has been on the 'watch this drug with concern' list for a long period of time. However the drug was kept on the market because it was assumed that the weight loss associated with the drug would outweigh the risks posed by any adverse outcomes.

Finally, some scientists who were conducting the Sibutramine Cardiovascular Outcome Trial, (SCOUT) looked in great detail at the drug and decided that it caused an increased risk of non-fatal heart attack and non-fatal stroke in some patients. However, the actual weight loss impact of the drug was very small. And so, it was decided by the FDA and I am assuming the TGA that the risks of this medicine (cardiovascular disease) outweighed the benefits (probably not helping you to lose much weight). Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal stated that whilst the FDA requested Abbott withdrew the drug, Abbott only agreed reluctantly, because they said that there were many studies that had been conducted that did not show an increase risk between this drug and Cardiovascular disease.

All I can say is HOOOORAY!!!

What has interested me though, is the media reporting of the withdrawal of this drug. Let me share a few quotes with you:

“Abbott Australia spokeswoman Jennifer Stevenson said yesterday those using the prescription medicine should make an appointment with their doctor for advice on an alternative.” Sydney Morning Herald

I seriously hope that alternative is to stop dieting and to start looking after your health and wellbeing.

However, given the two follow up quotes from Medical Doctors in the article, I'm doubting that will be the advice that most recieve:

“James Ritchie, who performs obesity surgery in Sydney, said he had often prescribed Reductil to patients considering gastric banding, to make sure they had tried all options. ”It was fairly widely used for people with obesity. About half the patients for bariatric surgery have used it,” he said.

And from the vice-President of the Australian Medical Association:

Steven Hambleton said the SCOUT study showed the weight loss benefits of Reductil were only 2.5 per cent more than a placebo, a ”disappointing” result. ”Drugs, in the main, have a disappointing outcome. In the end, it's about ELF – Eat Less Food.”

Ahh, that old chestnut ELF. Which sits so nicely alongside WTF and LOL.

The New York Times stated in an article that “The withdrawal of Meridia, also known as sibutramine, is the latest setback in efforts to provide a safe medicine to treat obesity one of the nation's largest health problems.”

But don't worry everyone because:

“The withdrawal of Meridia is not expected to seriously hurt Abbott, though it could conceivably expose the company to lawsuits from patients.”

Phew! What a relief. Because at the end of the day, it's all about the bottom line in these things. That being profit, not health.

So, another diet pill has come and gone, leaving only Xenical. But don't worry, it seems like Lorcaserin and Qnexa are on their way!

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