China bans 15 products over heart disease concern

Monday, November 1, 2010

BEIJING - China has banned 15 weight-loss products containing a drug that could lead to increased risk of heart disease.

The State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) has banned the production, sale and use of all anti-obesity medications containing sibutramine, China Daily reported Monday.

The drug watchdog made the decision after a latest research on sibutramine revealed that the risks of using these products outweighed the potential benefits to obese patients.

Sibutramine is the chief ingredient in the anti-obesity medication that alters a patient’s appetite and metabolism. It was introduced as an anti-obesity medication in the US in 1997 and received approval from the SFDA in China in 2000.

Producers have been asked to recall and destroy products containing the drug.

The ban on sibutramine in China follows the US FDA’s decision in October to remove the drug from the market after tests established that it raised blood pressure and posed a risk to patients’ cardiovascular systems.

The EU, Australia and Canada also pulled products containing the drug earlier this year.

Ma Qian, a 24-year-old woman from Beijing, said she took one such product to lose weight, but stopped taking it after experiencing rapid heart beat and vomiting.

Lu Changlin, a cardiologist at the Beijing Tongren Hospital, said sibutramine would not impair a patient’s health over a short period, but the drug could harm cardiac muscles and valves if it is taken for over 12 months. “And the damage is irreversible,” he said.

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