An expert panel of health advisers was split on whether the diet pill Meridia should be withdrawn in the US following concerns about higher risks of heart attacks and strokes, it has emerged.
Half of the Food and Drug Administration panel voted for the drug to be banned, with the remaining members favouring restrictions to distribution and a campaign of new warnings.
The advisers voted 8-8 on whether to allow the continued marketing of the Abbott Laboratories drug, which has been on the shelves since 1997.
The news came following the banning of the drug by regulators in Europe in January over safety issues after a study showed that patients with heart disease were more likely to suffer heart attacks and strokes than those taking a dummy pill.
Despite the ban, the FDA wanted to put the drug before a panel of advisers before deciding whether it should be withdrawn.
However, the agency does not have to follow the panel’s advice over the drug – which is among just three prescription drugs currently approved for weight loss.
The FDA is expected to decide whether to restrict access to the drug or withdraw it from the market.
Copyright Press Association 2010