The European Medicines Agency (EMEA) has recommended that the appetite suppressant sibutramine, also known as Reductil, should no longer be prescribed by doctors and that pharmacists should no longer dispense the drug.
People taking sibutramine should see their doctor to discuss an alternative, although it is safe to stop taking the drug in the meantime if they wish.
The regulator has been conducting a review of safety and has concluded the increased risks of heart attacks and strokes do not outweigh the benefits.
A trial of 10,000 patients followed for six years comparing sibutramine to a placebo has not yet been reported but the regulator warned that heart attacks and strokes were more common in those taking the drug. People taking the drug only achieved modest weight loss when compared to those on a placebo, the report from the European Medicines Agency said.
Diabetes UK Care Advisor Caroline Butler said: “Following recommendations from the EMEA, we would advise people with diabetes who are overweight and taking sibutramine to see their GP or healthcare professional to discuss an alternative weight loss drug.
“If people are concerned, they can stop taking sibutramine immediately.” Sibutramine was licensed for people classified as obese and should be taken for up to one year. More than 300,000 prescriptions for sibutramine were dispensed in England last year.