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What is Reductil?

By Douglas Bonderud
Updated May 17, 2024
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Reductil is a drug used in the treatment of obesity. It is commonly known as sibutramine, and sold under several names including Sibutrex, Meridia and Reductil. The drug works by giving the patient a feeling of fullness, which is intended to limit food intake. It is known to be potentially habit-forming and, as such, is on a restricted drug list in the U.S.

This drug is a stimulant and shares some similarities in chemical structure with amphetamines, although its function in the brain is different. Reductil operates by blocking the re-uptake, also known as re-absorption, of the neurotransmitter serotonin. The result is a greater amount of serotonin in the brain, which has been linked to a reduced appetite. Reductil typically comes in doses of five, ten, and 15 milligrams, and is administered orally.

Drugs such as Reductil are only recommended for those who have tried other weight loss programs with no success, and are medically identified as obese. A body mass index (BMI) of over 30 kg/m2 is typically required for these prescriptions. An individual with a slightly lower BMI and other risk factors, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, may also be prescribed this drug. Weight loss while using it will come gradually.

Sibutramine-based drugs were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1997. Side effects can include dizziness, drowsiness, an upset stomach, and an increased appetite despite feelings of being full. There are also concerns about the effects it has on heart function. In November of 2009 a statement was released by the FDA about a study that demonstrated a potential connection between this medication and cardiac events, such as heart attack or stroke. Sibutramine-based drugs should not be prescribed to anyone with low-functioning kidneys or pre-existing heart problems.

As of January 2010, Reductil and other drugs containing Sibutramine are no longer being prescribed by doctors in the United Kingdom. This was in response to a recommendation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which advocated revoking the drug's license in Europe. A patient wishing to discontinue the use of Reductil can do so immediately with no adverse side effects.

Although common, Reductil is surpassed in the world market by Orlistat. This drug is marketed as Alli™ or Xenical™. Rather than blocking Serotonin re-uptake, these drugs prevent the fat in foods from being broken down and used by the body.

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