Abbott, NEJM disagree on Meridia data

A 180-degree difference in interpretation of new study data has Abbott Labs and the New England Journal of Medicine at odds over the diet pill Meridia. Abbott says data from the multi-year, 10,000-subject trial show nothing new about the drug's risk. NEJM editors say the drug should no longer be sold.

The study authors--Abbott employees among them--find that patients having heart problems should not be prescribed Meridia, a warning already indicated on its label, reports the New York Times. Other findings: Subjects lost nine pounds compared with four for placebo-takers.

But those who got the drug had a 28 percent higher risk for nonfatal heart attack and a 36 percent increased risk for nonfatal stroke. Abbott says those who had the heart attacks and strokes had pre-existing conditions and should never have received the drug. The Journal says the cardiac risk outweighs the drug's "very unimpressive" benefit, and that it sees no rationale for keeping Meridia on the market."

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