Meridia: The New Anti- Obesity Drug
In today’s society the hegemonic belief surrounding weight is that thin is in and fat is out. With over half of the American population being overweight, the diet craze has swept the nation. However, a bigger player has come into the weight loss scene, the pharmaceutical industry. After the abrupt withdrawal of two anti- obesity drugs from the market in 1997, the pharmaceutical industry has been looking to fill the void in this area of the market. Meridia (sibutramine hydrochloric monohydrate), manufactured by Knoll Pharmaceutical Co, enters with caution what now appears to be a virtually deserted and uncertain anti- obesity ...view middle of the document...
However, Meridia acts to inhibit the reabsorption of serotonin so the that signal lasts longer, thus giving the sensation that you are full for a longer period of time. This method is thought to effectively reduce the caloric intake of an obese individual due to appetite suppression. For an informational video on the mechanism of action for Meridia visit the world wide web at www.4meridia.com/hcprof/fma.htm.
How is Meridia Different from the Recalled Drugs?
Although Meridia and fenfluramine have similar mechanisms of action (they both affect serotonin), fenfluramine boosts the levels of serotonin into the blood stream. This increase in the levels of serotonin is believed to have caused the heart valve damage seen in some patients. Essentially the difference between the two drugs is that Meridia is more localized, whereas fenfluramine has a systemic effect. Because of this difference, researchers believe that Meridia will not be linked with heart valve damage. As stated by Lawrence Cheskin, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center in Baltimore, "Meridia bypasses the heart and acts directly on the brain’s appetite control center. Meridia maintains serotonin levels in the brain, thereby curbing some carbohydrate cravings (Brietzke, 90)". Carbohydrates boost levels of serotonin in the brain, and this impacts appetite and mood so when your brain is running low on the chemical, it tells you to refuel. Meridia keeps serotonin levels elevated, short-circuiting these mentally fueled cravings. The drug also boosts adrenaline levels, curbing overall appetite.
Though Meridia may be safer than other anti- obesity drugs, it still warrants caution. The most troubling side effects include increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and abnormal heart rhythms (arrythmias) seen in some participants during clinical trials. However, most of these side effects were observed in participants who took large doses (more than 15 mg) of the drug (Portyansky, 23). Blood pressure elevations were controlled in these trials with dose adjustments . Those who do have high blood pressure to begin with are urged to weigh the benefits and risks of taking this drug. Meridia’s labeling recommendations calls for blood pressure and pulse measurements prior to therapy initiation and regular monitoring thereafter for all patients. For more information on the increase in blood pressure and heart rate go to www.4meridia.com/hcprof/fsa.htm on the world wide web. The most commonly reported side effects include dry mouth, headache, constipation, and insomnia, "but people seem to find these effects pretty tolerable", according to Cornell Medical Center’s Dr. Louis Aronne (Anonymous, 98).
Who Should Take Meridia?
Meridia is targeted for the seriously obese and not for those who are looking to lose a few pounds. Linda Mayer, director of communications at Knoll, states, "This is serious medicine, and it is only...