A HEALTHY young woman collapsed and died just three weeks after starting to take a weight-loss "wonder drug".Marie Malone, 19, was chatting to a friend on her mobile phone when she suddenly called out before dying of heart failure on her bed at her home at Iluka in Perth.
Her parents have spoken about their tragedy – thought to be the first Australian death linked to weight-loss drugs – hoping to prevent further fatalities and to warn others about the appetite suppressant Reductil.
Peter and Steph Malone are horrified that the drug is still available on prescription.
And they said Marie's shocking death in April last year was senseless because she didn't have a weight problem and didn't need the drug.
"My God, she died for absolutely nothing," her carpenter dad said, fighting back tears.
"She was 75kg at 1.7m. She was athletic and strong. But she wasn't remotely obese. She was gorgeous."
Mr Malone, 47, was angry Marie got the drug through a GP, who he believed should have told her to persevere with diet and exercise instead.
The GP told the Malones their daughter was prescribed the drug because she asked for it.
Last year, the Adverse Drug Reactions Advisory Committee said sibutramine – Reductil's chemical name – was a "moderately plausible explanation" for Marie's death.
A Therapeutic Goods Administration report said it was possible the drug was a factor.
A spokeswoman for Abbott Pharmaceuticals, Reductil's distributor, said the TGA had not contacted it about Marie's case.
The company was committed to patient safety and routinely monitoring the safety of its products.
Sibutramine had been prescribed to more than 360,000 Australians and about 19 million patients worldwide.
A Federal Health Department spokeswoman said there had not been an "unusual number" of adverse effects with Reductil and it would not be taken off the market.