GENERIC NAME: sibutramine
BRAND NAME: Meridia
NOTE: On October 8, 2010, Meridia (sibutramine) was withdrawn from the market due to the risk of serious cardiovascular events.
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Sibutramine is a medication that assists with weight-loss by altering neurotransmitters within the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that are produced and released by nerves in order to communicate with other nerves. Released neurotransmitters may attach to other nerves or they may be taken up again by the nerves that release them, a process termed reuptake. Sibutramine blocks the reuptake of the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Blocking the reuptake of neurotransmitters alters the balance of neurotransmitters within the nerve cells and thereby affect nerve function and interaction.
Patients taking sibutramine may achieve a 5-10% reduction from their baseline weight. Additionally, sibutramine-assisted weight loss has been accompanied by improvement in blood lipids (e.g, cholesterol). Sibutramine was approved by the FDA in 1997.
PRESCRIBED FOR: Sibutramine is used for weight loss in conjunction with a low calorie diet. Specific populations for whom the medication is recommended are those with an initial body mass index of more than 30 kg/m2 (27 mg/m2 if they also have other risk factors such as diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol or hypertension).
SIDE EFFECTS: In general, sibutramine is well-tolerated. The most common side effects have been:
- inability to sleep,
- dry mouth,
- abdominal pain,
- chest pain,
- joint pain,
- back pain,
- changes in taste,
- irregular or painful menstrual periods,
- flu-like syndrome,
- increased cough,
- muscle pain,
- neck pain,
- tingling of the extremities,
- sore throat, and
- sinus congestion.
Abnormal liver tests have been reported in 1 in 60 persons who receive sibutramine.
Other important side effects include:
However, it has not been established that sibutramine caused these events. If any of these events occur during treatment, sibutramine probably should be discontinued.
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