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Sep 16, 2010 10:51 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

FDA panel split on withdrawing diet pill Meridia

Federal health advisers are split over whether to withdraw the diet pill Meridia due to evidence that it increases heart attack and stroke risks, worrisome signs that led European regulators to ban the drug earlier this year.

A panel of Food and Drug Administration advisers voted 8-8 on whether to allow continued marketing of the drug.

Panelists who said the drug should stay on the market favored new warnings and restricted distribution.

The agency is not required to follow the group's advice, though it often does.

Meridia has been sold since 1997, but data released in November showed patients lost an average of just five pounds, while the heart attack and stroke risk in users shot up 16 percent.

European regulators withdrew the drug in January.

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