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Sibutramine is an oral medication that was primarily used for the treatment of obesity.It works by inhibiting the reuptake of three key neurotransmitters in the brain: serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. By preventing the reabsorption of these neurotransmitters, sibutramine increases their levels in the synaptic cleft, thereby enhancing their activity.


1.What Is Sibutramine?
2.How Does Sibutramine Work?
3.Sibutramine Benefits
4.The Efficacy and Safety of Sibutramine for Weight Loss
5.Sibutramine Side Effect
6.Sibutramine Dosage
7.Contraindications and Considerations Before Taking Sibutramine
8.Why Was Sibutramine Withdrawn From the Market?
9.Sibutramine Alternatives: Common Types of Weight Loss Drugs


1. What Is Sibutramine?

Sibutramine HCL , commonly referred to simply as sibutramine, is a medication designed to aid in weight loss by modulating neurotransmitter levels in the brain. Specifically, it functions as a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), which enhances feelings of satiety and reduces overall food intake. This dual-action mechanism makes sibutramine a powerful tool in combating obesity.

Sibutramine has been recognized as one of the most effective treatments for managing excess weight. Its potent efficacy in reducing body weight has been demonstrated in various clinical trials. As an appetite suppressant, sibutramine helps control hunger sensations, making it easier for individuals to adhere to a reduced-calorie diet. Additionally, by influencing the central nervous system, it also aids in preventing the decrease in energy expenditure that often accompanies weight loss, thereby facilitating sustained weight reduction.

The medication belongs to the class of drugs known as appetite regulators. By effectively controlling appetite and promoting a sense of fullness, sibutramine supports weight management efforts and assists in fat burning. However, it is important to note that the use of sibutramine must be accompanied by lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet and regular physical activity, to achieve the best results.

What Is Sibutramine


2. How Does Sibutramine Work?

Sibutramine primarily works by inhibiting the reuptake of two key neurotransmitters in the brain: serotonin (5-HT) and norepinephrine (NE). This inhibition affects the central nervous system and helps regulate appetite and energy expenditure.

Serotonin (5-HT) Reuptake Inhibition: Sibutramine prevents the reabsorption (reuptake) of serotonin into the presynaptic neuron after it has been released into the synaptic cleft. This increases the concentration of serotonin in the synaptic cleft, enhancing its activity.  Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that contributes to the regulation of mood, appetite, and satiety. Increased levels of serotonin help enhance the feeling of fullness (satiety) after eating, leading to reduced food intake.

Norepinephrine (NE) Reuptake Inhibition: Similarly, sibutramine inhibits the reuptake of norepinephrine, another neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of appetite and energy expenditure. Increased norepinephrine levels help decrease the sensation of hunger and the overall desire to eat.

Combined Effect on Satiety and Hunger: By simultaneously increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, sibutramine exerts a dual effect: it enhances satiety (the feeling of being full) and reduces hunger. This combined effect makes it easier for individuals to adhere to a reduced-calorie diet, thereby promoting weight loss.

How Does Sibutramine Work


3. Sibutrmine HCL Benefits

Sibutramine, once used as an anti-obesity medication, provided several benefits, primarily related to weight loss and associated health improvements. Here are the key benefits of sibutramine:

(1) Weight Loss

Reduction in Body Weight: Clinical trials demonstrated that sibutramine effectively reduced body weight in obese individuals. Patients often achieved a significant percentage of weight loss compared to those on placebo. Sibutramine helped in maintaining weight loss over extended periods, which is crucial for long-term obesity management.

(2) Appetite Suppression

Increased Satiety: By inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine, sibutramine increased feelings of fullness (satiety) after meals, leading to reduced overall food intake. The drug helped reduce hunger and cravings, making it easier for individuals to adhere to a calorie-restricted diet.

(3) Metabolic Improvements

Lipid Profile: Sibutramine was associated with improvements in lipid profiles, including reductions in triglycerides and total cholesterol levels, and increases in HDL (good) cholesterol. In patients with type 2 diabetes, sibutramine contributed to better blood glucose control, aiding in the management of diabetes.

Sibutrmine HCL Benefits


4. The Efficacy and Safety of Sibutramine for Weight Loss

(1) Background

The primary goal of weight loss is to prevent or reduce obesity-associated morbidity and mortality by improving cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors. A systematic review assessed the efficacy and safety of sibutramine hydrochloride for weight loss.

(2) Methods

In April 2002, multiple databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, etc.) were searched using the keywords “sibutramine,” “Meridia,” and “Reductil.” Randomized placebo-controlled trials of sibutramine (10-20 mg/d) in obese adults were reviewed, and methodological quality was assessed.

(3) Results

Data Analysis: 29 trials with sufficient data were analyzed, including unpublished data from 10 authors.

Weight Loss:

  • At 3 months: Mean difference of -2.78 kg (95% CI, -2.26 to -3.29 kg) favoring sibutramine.
  • At 1 year: Mean difference of -4.45 kg (95% CI, -3.62 to -5.29 kg) favoring sibutramine.

Cardiovascular and Metabolic Effects:

  • Increases in heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Small improvements in HDL cholesterol and triglycerides levels.
  • Small improvements in glycemic control among diabetic patients.

(4) Conclusions

Sibutramine is effective for weight loss and has both positive and negative effects on cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors. There is insufficient evidence to determine the long-term risk-benefit profile of sibutramine accurately. Long-term, high-quality trials are needed to provide more definitive safety and efficacy data.

The Efficacy and Safety of Sibutramine for Weight Loss



5. Sibutramine Side Effects

Sibutramine, while effective for weight loss, has been associated with a range of side effects.

Common side effects include:

  • Dry Mouth
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness

More serious side effects include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
  • Hypertension (increased blood pressure)
  • Palpitations
  • Nonfatal Myocardial Infarction

Sibutramine Side Effects


6. Sibutramine Dosage

Sibutramine, when it was used for the treatment of obesity, was prescribed in specific dosages tailored to individual needs to maximize its efficacy and minimize potential side effects.

(1) Initial Dosage

Starting Dose: The usual starting dose of sibutramine was 10 mg once daily. This dose was often recommended to be taken in the morning with or without food.

(2) Adjustment of Dosage

Dosage Increase: If there was insufficient weight loss (defined as less than 4 pounds) after four weeks of treatment, the dose could be increased to 15 mg once daily. This decision was made based on the patient’s response and tolerance to the medication.

Dosage Decrease: In cases where the patient experienced significant side effects such as increased heart rate or elevated blood pressure, the dose might be reduced back to 10 mg or the treatment could be discontinued.

(3) Maximum Dosage

Upper Limit: The maximum recommended dose of sibutramine was 15 mg once daily. Higher doses were not recommended due to the increased risk of adverse effects.

(4) Duration of Treatment

Long-term Use: Sibutramine was intended for long-term use as part of a comprehensive weight management program that included diet, exercise, and behavioral modifications. However, continuous evaluation was necessary to determine the drug’s effectiveness and safety for each patient.

(5) Special Considerations

Missed Dose: If a dose was missed, it should be taken as soon as remembered unless it was almost time for the next dose. Double dosing was not advised.

Discontinuation: If the patient did not achieve a clinically meaningful weight loss after three months on the maximum dose, discontinuation of sibutramine was considered.

Monitoring: Regular monitoring of blood pressure and heart rate was essential throughout the treatment due to the potential cardiovascular side effects.

Important Note: This dosage information provides an overview of how sibutramine was used when it was available, highlighting the importance of careful dosing and monitoring to minimize risks and maximize benefits.

Sibutramine Dosage


7. Contraindications and Considerations Before Taking Sibutramine

Sibutramine is not suitable for everyone, and certain individuals should avoid taking it due to the potential for serious side effects and interactions. Before starting sibutramine, several important contraindications and considerations should be taken into account to ensure safety and effectiveness.

  • Cardiovascular Disease

Individuals with a history of coronary artery disease, heart failure, arrhythmias, stroke, or uncontrolled hypertension should not take sibutramine due to the increased risk of cardiovascular events.

  • Severe Liver or Kidney Impairment

Patients with significant liver or kidney dysfunction should avoid sibutramine as these conditions can affect the metabolism and excretion of the drug, leading to increased risk of side effects.

  • Concurrent Use of Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)

Sibutramine should not be taken with MAOIs (or within two weeks of discontinuing MAOIs) due to the risk of serotonin syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition.

  • Eating Disorders

Patients with a history of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or other eating disorders should not use sibutramine.

  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Sibutramine is contraindicated during pregnancy and breastfeeding due to potential harm to the fetus or infant.

  • Hyperthyroidism

Individuals with uncontrolled hyperthyroidism should avoid sibutramine as it can exacerbate symptoms.

  • Pheochromocytoma

Patients with this rare tumor of the adrenal gland should not take sibutramine due to the risk of hypertensive crisis.

  • Glaucoma

Sibutramine may increase intraocular pressure, making it unsuitable for individuals with narrow-angle glaucoma.

  • Drug Interactions

Sibutramine can interact with a variety of medications, including other drugs that affect serotonin levels (e.g., SSRIs, triptans for migraines, certain pain medications). It is important to review all medications with a healthcare provider before starting sibutramine.

  • History of Substance Abuse

Patients with a history of drug or alcohol abuse should use caution, as sibutramine has the potential for misuse or dependence.

  • Mental Health Conditions

Individuals with severe depression, bipolar disorder, or other significant psychiatric conditions should be monitored closely if sibutramine is considered, as it can influence mood and behavior.

  • Monitoring

Even for those who are suitable candidates, regular monitoring of blood pressure, heart rate, and overall health status is essential while taking sibutramine to promptly identify and manage any adverse effects.

Contraindications and Considerations Before Taking Sibutramine


8. Why Was Sibutramine Withdrawn From the Market?

Sibutramine was withdrawn from the market in 2010 primarily due to concerns over its cardiovascular safety, as highlighted by the results of the SCOUT (Sibutramine Cardiovascular Outcomes Trial) study.


(1) SCOUT Study Findings

Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Events

The SCOUT study, a large, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, was conducted to evaluate the long-term cardiovascular effects of sibutramine in overweight and obese patients with a history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

The study found that patients taking sibutramine had a significantly higher risk of major adverse cardiovascular events, including non-fatal heart attacks, non-fatal strokes, and cardiovascular death, compared to those taking a placebo.

Key Results

The study reported that the risk of these serious cardiovascular events was increased by 16% in the sibutramine group compared to the placebo group.

These findings were particularly concerning because they demonstrated that sibutramine’s risks could outweigh its benefits, especially in a population already at increased cardiovascular risk.


(2) Regulatory Responses

FDA (United States)

In October 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested that Abbott Laboratories, the manufacturer of sibutramine (marketed as Meridia in the U.S.), voluntarily withdraw the drug from the U.S. market.

The FDA’s decision was based on the SCOUT study’s findings, which indicated that sibutramine posed an unacceptable risk to patients with a history of cardiovascular disease.

EMA (European Union)

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended the suspension of sibutramine-containing medicines in January 2010.

The EMA concluded that the benefits of sibutramine did not outweigh its risks, particularly the increased risk of cardiovascular events.

Other Countries

Following the publication of the SCOUT study results and regulatory actions in the U.S. and Europe, many other countries also decided to withdraw sibutramine from their markets due to similar safety concerns.

Why Was Sibutramine Withdrawn From the Market


9. Sibutramine Alternatives: Common Types of Weight Loss Drugs

Weight loss drugs can be classified based on their mechanisms of action and primary physiological effects. These classifications include appetite suppressants, GLP-1 receptor agonists, lipase inhibitors, sympathomimetics, and emerging therapies, each targeting different pathways to reduce appetite, increase satiety, inhibit fat absorption, or enhance energy expenditure.


(1) Appetite Suppressants (Anorectics)

An appetite suppressant is a type of drug or natural substance designed to reduce hunger and help individuals eat less, thereby aiding in weight loss. These substances work through various mechanisms to control appetite, leading to reduced caloric intake.

Lorcaserin: A selective serotonin 2C receptor agonist that helps increase feelings of fullness and reduce appetite. (Withdrawn from the market due to cancer risk concerns)

Tesofensine: A triple monoamine reuptake inhibitor (inhibits the reuptake of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin) that reduces appetite and enhances satiety.


(2) GLP-1 Receptor Agonists

GLP-1 receptor agonists are a class of medications that mimic the action of the naturally occurring hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). GLP-1 is an incretin hormone that plays a crucial role in glucose metabolism and appetite regulation. These drugs are used primarily for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and, more recently, for obesity management.

Semaglutide: A GLP-1 receptor agonist used for both type 2 diabetes and chronic weight management.

Tirzepatide: A dual glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and GLP-1 receptor agonist that enhances insulin secretion and reduces appetite. (Approved for diabetes, under investigation for weight loss)

Retatrutide: A multi-agonist that activates GLP-1, GIP, and glucagon receptors, showing promise in weight reduction and metabolic improvements.


(3) Lipase Inhibitors

A lipase inhibitor is a type of medication that aids in weight loss by blocking the action of lipase, an enzyme necessary for the digestion and absorption of dietary fats. By inhibiting lipase, these medications prevent the breakdown and subsequent absorption of fats from the diet, leading to reduced caloric intake and weight loss.

Orlistat: A gastrointestinal lipase inhibitor that reduces the absorption of dietary fat by about 30%.

Sibutramine Alternatives Common Types of Weight Loss Drugs


10. FAQs


(1) Does sibutramine suppress appetite?

Sibutramine is an anti-obesity drug that produces short-term and modest body weight reductions mainly due to its appetite-suppressing effect.

(2) What does sibutramine do to the body?

Sibutramine works by inhibiting the reuptake of certain neurotransmitters, specifically serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. This leads to increased levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain, which helps to reduce appetite and enhance the feeling of fullness.

(3) How much weight can you lose with sibutramine?

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).

(4) How long does it to take for sibutramine to work?

Adults taking sibutramine for 1 year are 19% to 34% more likely to achieve 5% weight loss and 12% to 31% more likely to achieve 10% weight loss than those taking placebo. Thus, clinicians would need to treat between 3 and 5 patients with sibutramine, 10 to 15 mg/d, for 1 year for one patient to achieve 5% weight loss.

(5) Who should not take sibutramine?

Sibutramine should not be taken by individuals with:

  • A history of cardiovascular disease (e.g., heart attack, stroke)
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Severe liver or kidney impairment
  • Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa or bulimia
  • Concurrent use of MAO inhibitors or other medications that can interact dangerously
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding

(6) What are the common side effects of sibutramine?

Common side effects include:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Headache

(7) Are there any serious side effects associated with sibutramine?

Yes, serious side effects can include:

  • Cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke
  • Serotonin syndrome, especially when taken with other serotonergic drugs
  • Severe allergic reactions

(8) Can sibutramine be taken with other medications?

Sibutramine can interact with several other medications, which can increase the risk of adverse effects. It’s important to inform your healthcare provider about all the medications you are taking, including:

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Other weight loss medications
  • Medications for migraines, such as triptans
  • Certain pain medications, including dextromethorphan and meperidine

(9) What should I do if I miss a dose of sibutramine?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the regular time. Do not take two doses at the same time to make up for a missed dose.

(10) Can sibutramine be used long-term?

Sibutramine was intended for short-term use. Long-term use was associated with increased risks, and there was insufficient evidence to support its long-term safety.

(11) What lifestyle changes should accompany sibutramine use?

While taking sibutramine, patients should follow a reduced-calorie diet and engage in regular physical activity. Behavioral therapy may also be recommended to support weight loss efforts.

(12) What should I do if I experience severe side effects while taking sibutramine?

If you experience severe side effects, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, severe headache, or signs of an allergic reaction, seek immediate medical attention and contact your healthcare provider.


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Author of this article:

Dr. Monique Hong graduated from UK Imperial College London Faculty of Medicine


Scientific Journal paper Author: 

1.Ananya Kongsuwan

Division of Health and Applied Sciences, Faculty of Science, Prince of Songkla University, Hat Yai, Songkhla 90110, Thailand

2.Pattaraporn Karamahito

Division of Health and Applied Sciences, Faculty of Science, Prince of Songkla University, Hat Yai, Songkhla 90112, Thailand

3.M.I. Trapali


4.Yoshifumi Morikawa

Forensic Science Laboratory, Gifu Prefectural Police Headquarters, Gifu 500-8501, Japan

5.Soo Hyeon Bae

College of Pharmacy, The Catholic University of Korea, Bucheon 420-743, Republic of Korea

6.Juan M. Aceves-Hernández

Departamento de Ciencias Químicas, Facultad de Estudios Superiores Cuautitlán, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Av. 1 de Mayo s/n, Cuautitlán Izcalli, Mexico

In no way does this doctor/scientist endorse or advocate the purchase, sale, or use of this product for any reason. Aasraw has no affiliation or relationship, implied or otherwise, with this physician. The purpose of citing this doctor is to acknowledge, acknowledge and commend the exhaustive research and development work done by the scientists working on this substance.



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[2] Heal DJ, Aspley S, Prow MR, Jackson HC, Martin KF, Cheetham SC (August 1998). “Sibutramine: a novel anti-obesity drug. A review of the pharmacological evidence to differentiate it from d-amphetamine and d-fenfluramine”. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders. 22 (Suppl 1): S18-28, discussion S29.

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[6] Siebenhofer A, Winterholer S, Jeitler K, Horvath K, Berghold A, Krenn C, Semlitsch T (January 2021). “Long-term effects of weight-reducing drugs in people with hypertension”. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 1 (1): CD007654.

[7] Glick SD, Haskew RE, Maisonneuve IM, Carlson JN, Jerussi TP (May 2000). “Enantioselective behavioral effects of sibutramine metabolites”. European Journal of Pharmacology. 397 (1): 93–102.

[8] “De-registration of pharmaceutical products containing sibutramine” (Press release). in Hong Kong. November 2, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-08.

[9] Rockoff JD, Dooren JC (October 8, 2010). “Abbott Pulls Diet Drug Meridia Off US Shelves”. The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 11 October 2010. Retrieved 8 October 2010.

[10] ndrew Pollack (October 8, 2010). “Abbott Labs Withdraws Meridia From Market”. The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 28, 2017. Retrieved February 25, 2017.

[11] “FDA Alert: Slimming Beauty Bitter Orange Slimming Capsules: Undeclared Drug Ingredient”. Archived from the original on 2018-08-25. Retrieved 2018-01-23

[12] Carroll L (19 October 2011). “‘Natural’ diet pills tainted with banned prescription drug”. MSNBC. Archived from the original on 11 January 2012.


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