An anti-obesity drug taken by 5,000 Irish patients has been suspended after it was found to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) said patients taking a medicine that contains sibutramine and is marketed as Reductil should cease treatment. It urged those affected to seek medical advice on other ways to lose weight.
Reductil has been on the market in Ireland for nine years.
Joan Gilvarry, the IMB's director of human medicines, said its decision was in line with a recommendation from the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
She said: “Sibutramine is a prescription medicine used to assist weight loss in... adult patients or overweight patients with other risk factors, such as type-2 diabetes.”
The decision to recommend suspension followed a pan-European review, which showed Reductil raised risk of heart attacks or strokes in patients with cardiovascular disease.
“The risk is also considered to be applicable to patients without a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease as obesity is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” explained Ms Gilvarry.
In the study, which involved 10,000 people, the increased risk was also found to apply even to those with no history of cardiovascular disease.