BY PMA RASHEED
16 Oct 2010, The Gulf Today
All generic versions of controversial Sibutramine slimming pills have been ordered off the shelves from the UAE markets on Friday.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) has issued a circular to health facilities and pharmaceutical establishments to cease dispensing the Sibutramine-based drugs, which is mostly used as an easy weight loss solution.
The medicines are manufactured and marketed by Abbott Laboratories, under brand names such as Reductil, Meridia and Sibutrex.
The MoH imposed the ban after global drug control organisations issued guidelines to stop consumption of the Sibutramine, as the benefit of the substance is smaller than its health risks.
Studies revealed the medicine had multiplied cardiovascular risks and strokes in numerous users, according to a senior MoH official.
The US Drug and Food Administration (FDA) enforced a ban on such drugs, and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) issued guidance recently to stop its use.
The orally-administered appetite suppressant for the treatment of obesity had also been barred from Canada, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the EU, Australia, Korea and Kuwait.
Dr Amin Al Amiri, Executive Director for Medical Practices and Licenses at the MoH, said, “The existing stocks of the respective products have been recalled, as recommended by the FDA and the EMA, and requested by its manufacturer and agent in the UAE.”
“Registration, import or export of all products that contain Sibutramine substance have also been suspended, soon after the announcement of the clinical results,” he added.
“All medical practitioners have been instructed to follow the cases of the users and provide them with the required treatment by subscribing to new alternatives,” pointed out Dr Amiri.
“Events of Sibutramine’s side-effects also should be reported to the drug control and registration department in the ministry,” he urged.
According to him, all the batches of the respective products will be out of the shelves of the UAE’s hospitals and pharmacies within two weeks from the date of the issuance of the circular.
Meanwhile, the MoH had announced in the beginning of this year that Sibutramine products available in the UAE could be consumed without fear.
This was in light of tougher warnings by the FDA on chances of risks from usage of the drug by cardiac patients.
The decision for the complete withdrawal of all the Sibutramine products in the UAE has been taken after reviewing their effects once again.
The MoH advised patients to stop taking the drugs.