How Serious Are Insurance Companies About Weight Loss?

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Sibutramine (Meridia) is well tolerated by most patients and considered to be a safe drug. It has been shown to promote successful weight loss in most patients.

However, in order to keep the weight off, the drug must be continued on a long-term basis.

A recent British study analyzed the impact of weight loss from sibutramine on a diet and exercise program in a “healthy obese” population. Researchers found that sibutramine works when combined with a diet and exercise program.

However, most insurance companies in the United States do not reimburse for sibutramine. Those insurers that do pay for this drug usually limit the duration to three months, which is essentially worthless.

It is necessary for the FDA to approve weight-loss drugs (such as Meridia and Xenical) for long-term use for patients with pre-diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Unfortunately, even if they are approved by the FDA, it is doubtful that the insurance industry will agree to reimburse for these medications for the increasing numbers of “healthy obese” individuals in this country.


Meridia (sibutramine) is cost-effective treatment for obesity when combined with diet and lifestyle change.

Medical Decision Making, February 2004

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