Just in time for the New Year's resolution. A randomised, double blind trial suggests that the drug, sibutramine, previously known for inducing dose-dependent weight loss and enhancing the effects of a low-calorie diets, is effective in sustaining weight loss (
The international team of researchers, lead by Professor W Philip T James from Aberdeen, UK, studied 605 obese patients recruited from eight European centres. The patients were enrolled in a 6-month period of weight loss treatment with sibutramine (10 mg/day) and an individualised dietary programme; 467 (77%) achieved more than 5% weight loss and were eligible for the second phase of the trial where they were randomly assigned either 10 mg/day of sibutramine (352 patients) or placebo (115 patients) for a further 18 months. Of the 204 sibutramine-treated patients who completed the trial, 89 (43%) maintained 80% or more of their original weight loss, compared with only nine (16%) of the 57 individuals receiving placebo.
Now the bad news; HDL-cholesterol concentrations (beneficial in protecting against heart disease) were greater in the sibutramine group (20.7% compared with 11.7%) and researchers were forced to withdraw 20 (3%) patients because of increases in blood pressure. Professor James says that patients receiving this drug should have their blood pressure monitored regularly to identify any unusual cardiovascular effects.