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Anti Obesity Pill Banned

The Supreme Council of Health) has banned the use and sale of Reductil Sibutramine, a popular anti- pill in the country, due to its potential health hazards.

The product is manufactured by the German company, Abbott. The decision was taken on the recommendation of the European Medicines Agency, which recently warned that the medicine could increase the patient’s chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

An official at the Drugs Control Department at SCH told The Peninsula yesterday that a circular had been sent to all pharmacies asking them to stop selling the product.

The move suspending the sale of the medicine, however, fell short of a total ban, said the official.

In a statement issued yesterday, the SCH warned the public against using the medicine and called on companies not to import it.

The EMA recently ordered doctors across the continent to stop prescribing sibutramine and told pharmacists not to dispense the drug, which is marketed in many countries as Reductil.

The watchdog’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) acted after a study of 9,800 patients said the risks of using sibutramine outweighed its minimal benefits.

About 86,000 people took the drug last year. It is prescribed for patients who are classed as clinically obese because they have a Body Mass Index of at least 30, and also for profoundly overweight people who also have a condition such as type 2 diabetes or abnormal levels of fat in their blood.

Enquiries with some pharmacies in Doha last evening revealed that the pills were still available with them.

“We have not received any instructions from the health authorities until now,” said a pharmacist in the Airport area.

He said Reductil was one of the commonly prescribed anti-obesity pills in Qatar. The medicine had been sold over the counter until a doctor’s prescription was made compulsory by the health authorities some years ago, he added.

The tablet is available in 10mg and 15mg sachets that are priced at QR257 and QR291, respectively.

Recently, the Supreme Council of Health) warned the public against using a herbal medicine Quick Acting Slimming Capsule manufactured by a Lebanon-based company specializing in herbal products. The product is not licensed in Qatar but some people were bringing it from abroad for personal use.

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