Meridia (sibutramine HCl monohydrate) is an oral medication indicated for the treatment of obesity. Serotonin is a chemical released in the brain after you have eaten a meal, which makes you feel full. Manufactured by Abbott Laboratories, Meridia acts to inhibit the re-absorption of serotonin, thus giving the sensation that you are full for a longer period of time.
Meridia is prescribed to treat obesity by blocking the re-uptake of the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine, which help regulate the sense of fullness.
Meridia was approved by the FDA in 1997 for the medical management of obesity and maintenance of weight loss.
Side effects of Meridia include headache, dry mouth, constipation, insomnia, increased sweating, an increase in blood pressure, and an increase in heart rate.
Meridia substantially increases blood pressure and heart rate in some patients and should not be given to patients with uncontrolled or poorly controlled hypertension, history of heart disease, stroke, severe liver or kidney disease, pregnant women or nursing mothers.
Important safety information about certain types of selective serotonin/norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors (SNRIs), such as Meridia, has been posted due to the risk of heart failure, high blood pressure, blood clots, seizures, and neurological disorders associated with usage.
Meridia is contraindicated in patients taking prescription medicines called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) for depression, Parkinson’s Disease, or any other disorder (for example: Eldepryl (selegiline hydrochoride), Parnate (tranylcypromine sulfate), and Nardil (phenelzine sulfate).
How Does Meridia Work?
Meridia is a class of drug known as monoamine (serotonin and norepinephrine) re-uptake inhibitor. Serotonin is a chemical released in the brain after you have eaten a meal, which makes you feel full. When a nerve impulse reaches the end of the nerve (the nerve terminal), the impulse causes the release of chemicals called neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitters are released in the space between the two adjacent neurons–this region is called the synaptic cleft. Usually once the neurotransmitters have bound to their receptors (the neurotransmitter and the receptor fit like a lock and a key) on the adjacent nerve, transport proteins work to reabsorb the extra neurotransmitter back into the nerve terminal so that they can be reused. However, Meridia acts to inhibit the reabsorption of serotonin so that the signal lasts longer, thus giving the sensation that you are full for a longer period of time.
Is Meridia effective?
The average weight loss from taking Meridia is reportedly 5-9%, within six months. But Abbott Laboratories warns that obesity is a chronic condition and since weight is regained quickly when medication is withdrawn, most patients have to take Meridia permanently, either constantly or in cycles, to maintain weight loss.
What is Pulmonary Hypertension?
Certain weight-loss drugs have been associated with pulmonary hypertension (PPH), a rare but sometimes fatal disease. Because this disease is so rare, it is not known whether or not Meridia may cause this disease.
The first symptom of PPH is usually shortness of breath. If you experience new or worsening shortness of breath, or if you experience chest pain, fainting, or swelling of your feet, ankles, or legs, stop taking Meridia and notify your physician immediately.
Can Meridia cause damage to the heart valves?
Certain weight-loss drugs have been associated with cardiac valve dysfunction. In one study, patients were examined by doctors who used cardiac ultrasound testing to carefully look at heart valve structure and function. Patients who had taken Meridia for periods of two weeks to 16 months were examined. Three out of 132 patients (2.3%) who had taken Meridia were found to have heart valve disease.
Can I file a lawsuit if I have suffered damages from taking Meridia?
Possibly. While all medications have certain, anticipated side effects, a drug manufacturer has a duty to inform physicians adequately regarding the known risks associated with its drugs. If a manufacturer fails to do so, it can be held responsible to patients who are injured as the result of inadequate warnings, under a legal theory known as “product liability.” Depending upon the particular circumstances of your case, damages may include recovery for any of the following:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Emotional distress
If you or a loved one has experienced any health problems while taking Meridia, you should contact your doctor immediately. You may also wish to contact an experienced Meridia lawyer to discuss your legal options. As all legal claims are subject to time limits, however, you may risk forfeiture of your right to financial compensation if you delay.