Expert Q&A

Meridia: What can you expect?

My doctor just prescribed Meridia to help me lose weight. Is there anything I should know? What should I expect?

Meridia is the brand name for the drug sibutramine, which is approved by the FDA for the treatment of obesity. Obesity is defined as a body mass index over 30. Here are some examples of when you’ve hit that mark:

  • For someone 65 inches tall, that’s 180 pounds.
  • For someone 67 inches tall, that’s 192 pounds.
  • For 70 inches tall, it’s 210 pounds.

When Meridia is added to a low calorie diet, people are more likely to lose weight and keep it off. You can expect to lose 10% of your current body weight, more or less. That can be a big help for diabetics whose diabetes is greatly influenced by their weight.

Meridia is chemically related to certain antidepressants. It can raise blood pressure and heart rate slightly and can interact with some medications. Meridia costs about $100 per month and if you stop taking it and have not learned to eat less on your own, you will very likely gain the weight back. It probably should not be used by pregnant women.

Assuming you tolerate it, using Meridia can get you accustomed to eating less. After you have used it for perhaps a year, you might discuss the possibility of trying to maintain your weight loss without it. However, if you have diabetes or high cholesterol, your doctor might suggest that you continue using it.

If you do not tolerate Meridia, there are antidepressant drugs that have demonstrated similar effects, although they have not been approved by the FDA for weight loss. They might not be appropriate for you, however.

For more information on the facts about Meridia see the following article from TheDietChannel: Facts About Meridia.

John Messmer, MD
Contributing Expert

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