Background: Early weight loss is generally considered to predict long-term weight outcome in obese patients, and this is reflected in prescribing guidelines for antiobesity drugs. For example, the current prescribing guidelines for the antiobesity drug, sibutramine, indicate that if patients have not lost 2 kg (or 4 lb) in the first 4 weeks of treatment with sibutramine 10 mg, the physician should re-evaluate the therapy, which may result in increasing the dose to 15 mg or discontinuation. This regimen may deny treatment to a large group of patients who might otherwise benefit, particularly patients with type 2 diabetes who often find it more difficult to lose weight than non-diabetic obese individuals.
Materials: We have re-analysed pooled data from seven randomized, controlled studies of sibutramine-induced weight loss and maintenance in which patients (n = 928; 75% female) had taken sibutramine 10 or 15 mg continuously for 12 months, in order to determine the predictors of success in weight loss (defined as loss of at least 5% of initial body weight at Month 12) in both diabetic and non-diabetic patients. Sensitivity and specificity analyses were used to calculate optimal predictive values.
Results: In both diabetic and non-diabetic patients, weight loss of 4 kg at 3 months was identified as the optimal predictor for achieving at least 5% weight loss at 12 months. This target was associated with the best average values for sensitivity, specificity and accuracy, as well as high positive (78% vs. 84% for non-diabetics and 76% vs. 85% for diabetics, compared to existing guidelines target of 2 kg after 1 month treatment) and negative predictive values (63% vs. 71% for non-diabetics; 52% vs. 70% for diabetics).
Conclusion: Sibutramine, in conjunction with diet and exercise, should be continued for at least 3 months (providing there are no adverse effects) to determine whether or not patients are likely to achieve a clinically valid outcome at 1 year. This highlights the need to ensure that regulatory restrictions reflect the needs of clinical practice.