London: The controversial diet pill Acomplia has been banned by European safety chiefs, over concerns that it may be linked to suicide in vulnerable individuals.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has ordered doctors to stop prescribing Acomplia now following several deaths, including a suicide and reports of other adverse reactions. It is already banned in the US.
The UK’s, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence approved the drug four months ago. At that time there were warnings on the packet about the increased risk of depression, anxiety and other ‘serious’ side effects. The EMA also warned that Acomplia should not be taken by patients with major depression or on antidepressants.
Now the EMA has suspended the medicine’s licence because the ‘benefits no longer outweigh its risks’.
It said: “New data from post-marketing experience and ongoing clinical trials indicated that serious psychiatric disorders may be more common than in the clinical trials.”
Patients taking Acomplia are advised to see their doctor or pharmacist
Acomplia, also known as rimonabant, was licensed for the treatment of obesity and overweight patients with type 2 diabetes.
In medical trials. the drug demonstrated that it was helpful to two out five patients in loosing up to 10 per cent of their body body weight.
But a scientific review in The Lancet medical journal found a 40 per cent higher chance of being harmed by ‘adverse events or serious adverse events’.
The pill, made by the French firm Sanofi-Aventis, works by interfering with a system in the body which controls energy levels, reducing the cravings for food and helping to prevent fat from being deposited.
Acomplia costs £44 a month in the UK, and is marketed in 18 European countries.