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Consumer Group Renews Attack On Diet Drug

Sep 3, 2003 | AP

A consumer group is again urging a ban of the prescription diet drug Meridia, saying at least 49 users have died of heart problems, including some in their 20s and 30s.

Also, the Food and Drug Administration has 54 reports of women who suffered stillbirths, miscarriages or had babies with birth defects while using Meridia, Public Citizen said Wednesday. Among them were four babies born with malformed hearts, similar to defects seen in some animal experiments with the drug.

Women are not supposed to diet during pregnancy, and the drug's label does not mention fetal harm if a woman becomes pregnant while taking Meridia. But Meridia does bear a warning that it can substantially raise some people's blood pressure.

Public Citizen's Dr. Sidney Wolfe said that warning is not enough. He said the FDA has received reports of 30 more Meridia users who died of heart attacks or cardiac arrest since he first petitioned the agency for a ban in March 2002.

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