Transcript - Meridia Class Action - Fox News 32 Chicago - March 27, 2002

Meridia Class Action
Fox News 32 Chicago
Fox Family Health
March 27, 2002

Margaret Shortridge: Well the diet drug Meridia is coming under increasing fire. Researchers in Australia studied 3,500 asthmatic children and found that two-thirds of had attacks that were brought on by laughing fits or tickling. But in those cases the children’s asthma was not well controlled. The message: do not keep your children from having fun. Just make sure that their asthma is well controlled through their medication. Well, the diet drug Meridia is coming under increasing fire amidst allegations that it is unsafe. A lawsuit has been filed against the drugs’ maker Abbott Labs and now Abbott is trying to reassure patients and the public that the drug is safe.

Narrator: It is estimated that over eight million people world-wide have taken the prescription drug, Meridia. This woman is one of them.

Barbara Schumann: It worked for me. I have no side effects from it except that I lost the weight.

Narrator: Barbara Schumann says that it helped her lose over 30 pounds in six months but not everyone feels it is safe.

Attorney Ken Moll: The risks of this drug greatly outweigh any benefit that this drug can have.

Narrator: Lawyers have filed a class action lawsuit to get Meridia taken off the market. The suit claims that meridian has been linked to over 34 deaths and hundreds of cases of serious adverse reactions worldwide.

Attorney Ken Moll: When you have one death, or two deaths and it’s related or associated to Meridia, it should be pulled from the market. We now have evidence of over 30 deaths that have been reported to the FDA and a lot more deaths that have not.

Narrator: The maker of the drug, Abbott Laboratories does not dispute the number of deaths but says it’s investigation does not indicate that Meridia was responsible.

Dr. Eugene Sun, Abbott Laboratories: We do not see any particular pattern and what we conclude is that most of these patients have severe underlying diseases in conjunction with being severely overweight.

Narrator: The drug works in the brain by creating a sense of fullness. Doctors working with Abbott Labs admit it can have some serious side effects like high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and headache. But overall, the company says it is safe and effective. Barbara Schumann says she kept most of the weight off but if it returned..

Barbara Schumann: I would never be afraid to take it again.

Margaret Shortridge: This class action lawsuit comes on the heels of a petition filed by the consumer advocacy group called public citizen. Now, that group wants the FDA to pull Meridia off the market also claiming that it leads to cardiac complications.