Meridia is a drug that physicians sometimes prescribe in order to help very overweight and obese patients lose weight. Its generic name is sibutramine. Like many other diet pills, Meridia is supposed to be used in conjunction with a low calorie diet and a regular exercise program.
According to the Drugs.com website, Meridia works by affecting chemicals in the brain that have to do with weight maintenance. It is usually taken just once a day.
To get even more technical, when we eat a meal, we release two chemicals inside the “appetite control” section of the brain: serotonin and norepinephrine. These two naturally-occurring substances help us feel full. The amount of the two chemicals will then gradually go back down as they get reabsorbed into the body, and so over time we will feel less and less full and we will want to eat again. Meridia works by preventing the reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine, which means people who take it should end up feeling full for a longer period of time, and thus end up eating less.
In theory, this might sound like a pretty good way to lose weight, but in reality, Meridia has been shown to have some fairly serious side effects. For example, one study found that people taking sibutramine are more likely to have cardiovascular issues, as compared to a control group. This year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration noted that the drug increases the risk of strokes and heart attacks in patients who already had a history of heart disease. And on January 21, 2010, the European Medicines Agency recommended that marketing authorizations for sibutramine cease, after a six-year study found that the drug led to an increased risk of non-fatal but still serious cardiovascular issues in people who are at risk for heart disease.
At the same time, a large randomized-controlled study of close to 11,000 patients concluded that taking sibutramine for six weeks appeared to be both safe and tolerated for people who are at high risk for heart disease.
If you do decide to take Meridia, you should never take it along with an MAO inhibitor such as Furoxone, Marplan, Nardil, or others.