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Banned Diet Drugs May Not Be So Bad

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Most of the valve disorders were mild and not even detectable with a stethoscope. Gardin says he does not know whether these problems would even cause any symptoms. He tells WebMD that he is now completing a follow-up study examining another year of data on the same study groups, but not because there is a suspicion that problems may occur long after the medications are taken.

"There is nothing in our data that we reported in JAMA to suggest that," he says. "It is just an important question that needs to be answered." Gardin says the drug manufacturers "did the cautious thing" by pulling the medications before studies like his were completed.

"This is a very good study and I am glad they did it," Arthur Frank, MD, tells WebMD. "It is reassuring. It says the frequency of these things is very low and even if they do occur, it does not seem to have a substantial [effect on the heart]." Frank, who reviewed the study for WebMD, is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

"I certainly did not believe the early reports," Frank adds. "Why were they seeing what I wasn't seeing? I think the FDA had no choice but to take them off the market because there were some suspicions. ... On the other hand, were they available today, would I use it again? Yep, but I would be selective about who got them and do a lot of monitoring. I had some patients who had such remarkable, dramatic results."

Neil Weissman, MD, who was the lead author of an earlier paper on Redux, says this study "nicely bridges the disparities" among the various studies on these two medications, and should provide a measure of comfort to primary care physicians and patients. Weissman, director of echocardiography at the Cardiovascular Research Institute at Washington Hospital Center and an associate professor of medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine, says he chalks up the higher incidences of problems initially reported to differences in reading the echocardiograms.

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