French drug safety board reveals that a popular weight loss drug may have been responsible for 500 deaths

A French drug-safety organization has linked the drug Mediator to almost 500 deaths and 3,500 hospitalizations since it's introduction in 1976.  Sold in Europe, it was originally prescribed only to obese and/or diabetic individuals, but it became popular as a weight loss drug for it's appetite suppressing effects.

Although France banned the drug in November '09, Spain and Italy had banned it in 2005, raising questions as to why French authorities ignored evidence of the drug's potentially lethal effects.  As in the United States, pharmaceutical lobbies have close ties to politicians, and business  interests may have led to the delay.

The Mediator-caused deaths and hospitalizations were due to thickened heart valves.  The same side effect was also attributed to another drug, Isomeride, which was also manufactured by Servier Pharmaceuticals.  It is worth noting that Isomeride's commercial equivalent in the United States, Redux, was banned in 1997.

Redux, in turn, was the fenfluramine half of the notorious Fen-fen diet drug that was also banned in 1997.  That drug's maker, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, has since paid upwards of 13 billion dollars to settle the resultant lawsuits.

In spite of all this, new weight loss drugs like Arena Pharmaceutical's Lorquess (which, you guessed it, works the same way as Isomeride/Redux/fenfluramine) are seeking FDA approval.  As it would seem, the potential profits to be made from these "diets in a pill" outweigh the risks.
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About Unknown

Tony is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, author of "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire", and Cofounder of Powerful PT, an innovative information resource for Fitness Professionals. He has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio broadcasts and regularly hosts healthy cooking workshops and informational lectures. He is also a full-time Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant who lives in Jacksonville Florida with his wife Jamie.
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  1. IMHO people should concentrate on fitness programs and workout along with control in food rather than going of weight reduction pills and medication.