The leading obesity drug Reductil (sibutramine) has been suspended from use in the UK over concerns it increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The drug works by controlling cravings for food by altering chemical messages to the brain.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said evidence suggests that there is an increased risk of non-fatal heart attacks and strokes with this medicine that outweighs the benefits of weight loss, which is modest and may not be sustained in the long term after stopping treatment.

It has advised prescribers not to issue any new prescriptions for Reductil and to review the treatment of patients taking the drug.