Are sibutramine and orlistat effective medications for the treatment and long-term management of obesity?

Updated: Dec 01, 2020
  • Author: Steven M Schwarz, MD, FAAP, FACN, AGAF; Chief Editor: Jatinder Bhatia, MBBS, FAAP  more...
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Sibutramine may be classified as an anorectic drug, whereas orlistat's mechanism of action involves induction of lipid maldigestion. Although each of these medications significantly increases weight loss when compared with placebo, in long-term studies, the anorectic agents have also been shown to maintain effectiveness only in conjunction with an appropriate diet and exercise program.

Indeed, these drugs mediate only modest effects on total body weight, with long-term weight losses amounting to 2-10 kg in adults with obesity. Furthermore, responses of individuals to drug therapy widely vary. Most weight loss is achieved within the first 6 months of treatment, followed either by weight stabilization or by a slight regain of lost weight. Discontinuation of drug therapy is usually accompanied by rebound weight gain and loss of the selective advantage over placebo, unless significant lifestyle modifications have been achieved. Other older anorectic agents approved in the US include benzphetamine (Didrex), diethylpropion, phendimetrazine (Bontril), and phentermine (Ionamin).

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