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Active ingredient: Sibutramine - Brands, Medical Use, Clinical Data

Brands, Medical Use, Clinical Data

Drug Category

  • Appetite Depressants
  • Antidepressants
  • Anorexigenic Agents
  • Stimulants

Dosage Forms

  • Capsules

Brands / Synonyms

Medaria; Meridia; Reductil; Sibutramina [Spanish]; Sibutraminum [Latin]


For the treatment of obesity.


Sibutramine is an orally administered agent for the treatment of obesity. Sibutramine exerts its pharmacological actions predominantly via its secondary (M1) and primary (M2) amine metabolites. The parent compound, sibutramine, is a potent inhibitor of serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake in vivo, but not in vitro. However, metabolites M1 and M2 inhibit the reuptake of these neurotransmitters both in vitro and in vivo. In human brain tissue, M1 and M2 also inhibit dopamine reuptake in vitro, but with ~3-fold lower potency than for the reuptake inhibition of serotonin or norepinephrine. Sibutramine, M1 and M2 exhibit no evidence of anticholinergic or antihistaminergic actions. In addition, receptor binding profiles show that sibutramine, M1 and M2 have low affinity for serotonin (5-HT1, 5-HT1A, 5-HT1B, 5-HT2A, 5-HT2C), norepinephrine (b, b1, b3, a1 and a2), dopamine (D1 and D2), benzodiazepine, and glutamate (NMDA) receptors. These compounds also lack monoamine oxidase inhibitory activity in vitro and in vivo.

Mechanism of Action

Sibutramine produces its therapeutic effects by norepinephrine (NE), serotonin reuptake (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) and dopamine reuptake inhibition. Sibutramine and its major pharmacologically active metabolites (M1 and M2) do not act via release of monoamines.


Rapid absorption following oral administration. Absolute bioavailability is not known, but at least 77% of a single oral dose of sibutramine is absorbed.


Side effects include dry mouth, anorexia, insomnia, constipation and headache.

Biotrnasformation / Drug Metabolism



Sibutramine is contraindicated in patients receiving monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Sibutramine is contraindicated in patients with hypersensitivity to sibutramine or any of the inactive ingredients of Sibutramine. Sibutramine is contraindicated in patients who have a major eating disorder (anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa). Sibutramine is contraindicated in patients taking other centrally acting weight loss drugs.

Drug Interactions

CNS Active Drugs

The use of Sibutramine in combination with other CNS-active drugs, particularly serotonergic agents, has not been systematically evaluated. Consequently, caution is advised if the concomitant administration of Sibutramine with other centrally-acting drugs is indicated.

In patients receiving monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) (e.g., phenelzine, selegiline) in combination with serotonergic agents (e.g., fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, paroxetine, sertraline, venlafaxine), there have been reports of serious, sometimes fatal, reactions ("serotonin syndrome;" see below). Because Sibutramine inhibits serotonin reuptake, Sibutramine should not be used concomitantly with a MAOI. At least 2 weeks should elapse between discontinuation of a MAOI and initiation of treatment with Sibutramine. Similarly, at least 2 weeks should elapse between discontinuation of Sibutramine and initiation of treatment with a MAOI.

The rare, but serious, constellation of symptoms termed "serotonin syndrome" has also been reported with the concomitant use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and agents for migraine therapy, such as Imitrex (sumatriptan succinate) and dihydroergotamine, certain opioids, such as dextromethorphan, meperidine, pentazocine and fentanyl, lithium, or tryptophan. Serotonin syndrome has also been reported with the concomitant use of two serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The syndrome requires immediate medical attention and may include one or more of the following symptoms: excitement, hypomania, restlessness, loss of consciousness, confusion, disorientation, anxiety, agitation, motor weakness, myoclonus, tremor, hemiballismus, hyperreflexia, ataxia, dysarthria, incoordination, hyperthermia, shivering, pupillary dilation, diaphoresis, emesis, and tachycardia.

Because Sibutramine inhibits serotonin reuptake, in general, it should not be administered with other serotonergic agents such as those listed above. However, if such a combination is clinically indicated, appropriate observation of the patient is warranted.

Drugs That May Raise Blood Pressure and/or Heart Rate: Concomitant use of Sibutramine and other agents that may raise blood pressure or heart rate have not been evaluated. These include certain decongestants, cough, cold, and allergy medications that contain agents such as ephedrine, or pseudoephedrine. Caution should be used when prescribing Sibutramine to patients who use these medications.

Drugs That Inhibit Cytochrome P450(3A4) Metabolism: In vitro studies indicated that the cytochrome P450(3A4)-mediated metabolism of sibutramine was inhibited by ketoconazole and to a lesser extent by erythromycin. Clinical interaction trials were conducted on these substrates. The potential for such interactions is described below.

Ketoconazole: Concomitant administration of 200 mg doses of ketoconazole twice daily and 20 mg sibutramine once daily for 7 days in 12 uncomplicated obese subjects resulted in moderate increases in AUC and Cmax of 58% and 36% for M1 and of 20% and 19% for M2, respectively.

Erythromycin: The steady-state pharmacokinetics of sibutramine and metabolites M1 and M2 were evaluated in 12 uncomplicated obese subjects following concomitant administration of 500 mg of erythromycin three times daily and 20 mg of sibutramine once daily for 7 days. Concomitant erythromycin resulted in small increases in the AUC (less than 14%) for M1 and M2. A small reduction in Cmax for M1 (11%) and a slight increase in Cmax for M2 (10%) were observed.

Cimetidine: Concomitant administration of cimetidine 400 mg twice daily and sibutramine 15 mg once daily for 7 days in 12 volunteers resulted in small increases in combined (M1 and M2) plasma Cmax (3.4%) and AUC (7.3%); these differences are unlikely to be of clinical significance.

Alcohol: In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study in 19 volunteers, administration of a single dose of ethanol (0.5 mL/kg) together with 20 mg of sibutramine resulted in no psychomotor interactions of clinical significance between alcohol and sibutramine. However, the concomitant use of Sibutramine and excess alcohol is not recommended.

Oral Contraceptives: The suppression of ovulation by oral contraceptives was not inhibited by Sibutramine. In a crossover study, 12 healthy female volunteers on oral steroid contraceptives received placebo in one period and 15 mg sibutramine in another period over the course of 8 weeks. No clinically significant systemic interaction was observed; therefore, no requirement for alternative contraceptive precautions are needed when patients taking oral contraceptives are concurrently prescribed sibutramine.

Drugs Highly Bound to Plasma Proteins: Although sibutramine and its active metabolites M1 and M2 are extensively bound to plasma proteins (94%), the low therapeutic concentrations and basic characteristics of these compounds make them unlikely to result in clinically significant protein binding interactions with other highly protein bound drugs such as warfarin and phenytoin. In vitro protein binding interaction studies have not been conducted.

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