NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - When the weight-loss drug sibutramine, marketed under the brand names Meridia or Reductil, is used to treat obesity in adolescents, it is associated with small decreases in blood pressure and pulse rate, according to a new study.
“Overall there were only minor cardiovascular effects related to the treatment with sibutramine,” Dr. Stephen R. Daniels from University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, told Reuters Health. “However, it is important to recognize that this is only one study and that more data would be useful to more clearly define both the efficacy and the safety of sibutramine in young patients.”
The study was prompted by previous reports that increases in blood pressure and pulse rate could occur in adults treated with sibutramine. Daniels and his associates investigated the cardiovascular effects of sibutramine in conjunction with behavioral therapy in nearly 500 obese adolescents.
At the start of the study, the participants’ average body-mass index (BMI) was about 36. A year later, the average BMI had dropped by 2.9 points in those given sibutramine compared with only 0.3 points among those who had been given an inactive “placebo” pill.
“Small (average) decreases in blood pressure and pulse rate were seen in both sibutramine and placebo groups,” the researcher report in the medical journal Pediatrics, and these changes were greater in those who lost the most amount of weight.
“It is not clear why blood pressure and heart rate respond differently to treatment with sibutramine in adolescents compared with adults,” the investigators say.
“I personally still see the use of sibutramine in adolescents more in the research realm than the clinical realm,” Daniels commented.
“Behavioral therapy is still the mainstay of treatment in younger patients,” he said. If drug treatment is to be used, he advised, it should be reserved for those with more severe obesity and with disorders related to obesity “in whom behavioral methods have been seriously tried and have failed.”
SOURCE: Pediatrics, July 2007.