Abu Dhabi: More than 300 licensed pharmacies across the emirate have been asked to withdraw a popular weight-loss tablet that has been linked to developing an increased risk of a heart attack and/or stroke.

The medicine, known as sibutrammine and marketed as Reductil, is popular across the UAE and elsewhere, as it is said to be effective in reducing up to five per cent of a person's weight over a period of six months.

The Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) sent a circular last Monday, asking pharmacies and hospitals across Abu Dhabi to stop selling Reductil after concluding that the drug's risks outweigh its benefits.

High risk

"The Committee for Medicinal Product for Human Use (CHMP) after reviewing the results from a recent safety study for [sibutrammine] Reductil, found that the use of the medicine in high risk patients who had history of cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus, has resulted in increased incidence of cardiovascular events," said the HAAD circular signed by Dr Mohammad Abul Khair, Section Head, Drugs and Medical Products Regulation at the HAAD.

Abul Khair explained that in general, for a person to maintain their weight loss and reduce risk, he/she should take the tablets on daily basis.

"Once you stop the medication, you simply gain weight. That's why I advice people to walk at least half an hour each day, reduce their dinner and eating portions, and eat healthy rather than depend on medications to lose weight," Abul Khair told Gulf News.

The HAAD sent the circular based on an evaluation and a study conducted by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which took note of the recommendations for Reductil prescriptions. Doctors were told to stop prescribing sibutramine-containing medicines to obese or overweight patients.

They should also review the treatment of patients currently treated with the medicine; pharmacist should no longer dispense sibutramine-containing medicines. People who are taking sibutramine to help them lose weight were also told to see their doctor at once.

Top 10 Slimming Tips


1 - Don't go on a diet . . . successful slimming is more likely to be achieved by subtle changes in your eating habits and lifestyle. Changes that you can live with and come to enjoy.


2 - Eat slowly and you'll eat less . . . put your knife and fork down between mouthfuls, sip water with your meals and take smaller bites.


3 - Don't ban any foods . . . Enjoy a small portion from time to time. Banning foods is a sure-fire way to make you crave them.


4- Visualise how you're going to look . . . when you reach your slimming goal - What will you be doing? How will you feel? What clothes will be in your wardrobe?


5 - Never give up . . . on a goal because of the time it's going to take to get there - the time will pass anyway.


6 - Keep a food diary . . . It will enable you to identify which foods/drinks you need to have a bit less of; times/circumstances when you're likely to over-eat, and whether you're getting a varied diet with enough fruit and veg.


7- Don't go shopping . . . when you're hungry - if you buy it, you'll most likely end up eating it. Most of us hate throwing food away.


8 - Be nice to yourself . . . if you have a bad day, don't beat yourself up. Congratulate yourself on how many good days you've had and realise that one bad day isn't going to spoil it all.


9 - Get some exercise . . .successful slimmers tend to make exercise part of their plan. It doesn't have to be hard - even 20-30 minutes of fairly brisk walking a day will pay dividends.


10 - Reward yourself . . . give yourself a treat for each pound and stone you lose. New clothes make a great incentive when you're slimming - you could put £x per pound lost into a secret stash!




Source: Weight Loss Resources, UK.