What Is Sibutramine Used For?

How Does Sibutramine Work?

Sibutramine works by helping you to feel full more quickly. It acts in the brain, where it increases the levels of certain brain chemicals (including serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine) in specific areas of the brain.
Sibutramine does not increase the production of brain chemicals. Instead, it prevents the "reuptake" of the chemicals. As a message travels down a nerve, it causes the end of the cell to release a brain chemical. The chemical enters the gap between the first nerve cell and the one next to it. When enough of the chemical reaches the second nerve cell, it activates receptors on the cell, and the message continues on its way. The first cell then quickly absorbs any of the extra chemical that remains in the gap between the cells, preventing the chemical from further activating the second cell. This is called "reuptake."
Sibutramine helps to block the reuptake of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, so more of these chemicals remain in the space between the brain's nerve cells. This gives the chemicals a better chance of activating the receptors on the next nerve cell. This action promotes a sense of fullness (the signal to stop eating). It does not suppress the appetite (the signal to start eating).

Sibutramine Use in Children

Sibutramine is not approved for treating obesity in children under the age of 16 years old. Talk to your child's healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of using sibutramine in children. There is some concern that sibutramine may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts in children, much like SSRI antidepressants, which work in a similar way as sibutramine.

Off-Label Sibutramine Uses

On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend sibutramine for something other than weight loss. This is called an "off-label" use. At this time, there are no universally accepted off-label sibutramine uses.

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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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