What Is Sibutramine Hydrochloride?

Jacquelyn Gilchrist

Sibutramine hydrochloride is a prescription-strength medication used for weight control and weight loss in people who are obese. This drug is an appetite suppressant intended to be used along with a healthy diet and an exercise program. As of 2011, it is no longer available in the United States, however physicians in other countries may still prescribe it.


This medicine is available as an oral tablet to be taken once daily, with or without food. Sibutramine hydrochloride has the potential to be habit-forming, so patients should be careful not to exceed their prescribed dosages. While using this medicine, patients should regularly monitor their weight. Those who do not lose weight may need an increased dosage or the doctor may recommend against continuing the drug. Weight loss may decrease or discontinue after a patient has been taking the drug for six months.

Patients should inform the prescribing physician of bothersome or persistent side effects from the use of sibutramine hydrochloride. These side effects may include constipation, flu-like symptoms, and weakness. Insomnia, nervousness, and flushing are also possible. Other patients have experienced back pain, painful menstrual periods, and headaches.

Rarely, sibutramine hydrochloride may cause trouble breathing, chest pain, and seizures. Patients who experience these serious side effects should get immediate medical attention. Other serious side effects may include vomit with the appearance of coffee grounds, black stools, and swelling of the legs or arms. Shaking, a rapid or irregular heartbeat, and numbness may also occur rarely, as well as thoughts of suicide. Some patients have reported changes in vision, eye pain, and shortness of breath, as well as nausea, stomach pain, and abnormal muscle movements.

There are some special precautions that should be followed while using sibutramine hydrochloride. Alcohol should be used in moderation or avoided, as it can increase drowsiness. Caffeine may also worsen side effects. Before undergoing surgery, including dental procedures, patients must inform the surgeon that they are using this medicine.

Patients must disclose all other medical conditions prior to beginning treatment. They may be unable to use this drug if they have an eating disorder, irregular heartbeat, or congestive heart failure. High blood pressure, seizures, and glaucoma may also preclude one from taking it. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use sibutramine hydrochloride.

This appetite suppressant may interact with other medications or supplements, such as caffeine pills, sleeping pills, and allergy or cold medicines. Blood thinners, migraine drugs, or chemotherapy therapies for cancer may also interact with it. Patients should be careful when using sulfa antibiotics, sedatives, and aspirin.

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