According to an announcement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday, Abbott Laboratories has agreed to remove the weight loss drug Meridia (sibutramine) from the market, voluntarily.
The FDA had urged the company to remove the medication due to the results of studies that linked its usage to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
The pill is popular among those trying to lose weight. Close to 8 million people around the world are currently taking the drug. Of those, about 100,000 are in the United States. The company had projected that the pill would account for $30 million in sales in the U.S. alone during 2010.
Representatives from the FDA have stated that the risks are not justified by the small amount of weight loss available from the pill. They have advised doctors to stop prescribing the medication, and those who use it to stop taking it. The FDA recommends that those seeking weight loss discuss other options with their health care providers.
Meridia was released in 1997. Studies had found that those using the pill had the tendency to lose 5% more weight than those on placebo pills.
A follow-up study, which was instrumental in drug being removed from the market, is known as the Sibutramine Caridovascular Outcomes Trial. It showed a 16% increase in the risk of heart related problems among Meridia users, including heart attack, stroke and even death.