Obesity drug Meridia pulled off market

Abbott Laboratories has agreed to voluntarily withdraw its obesity drug Meridia from the U.S. market, the Food and Drug Administration announced Friday.

Meridia was approved by the FDA in 1997 but since then has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The agency recently requested the market withdrawal after a trial demonstrated a 16 percent increase in the risk of serious heart events in people who took the drug.

"Meridia’s continued availability is not justified when you compare the very modest weight loss that people achieve on this drug to their risk of heart attack or stroke," said John Jenkins, director of the Office of New Drugs in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). "Physicians are advised to stop prescribing Meridia to their patients and patients should stop taking this medication. Patients should talk to their healthcare provider about alternative weight loss and weight-loss maintenance programs."