• sibutramine;
  • pharmacovigilance;
  • ethnicity;
  • prescribing patterns;
  • body mass index (BMI);
  • Intensive Medicines Monitoring Programme (IMMP)



To describe patterns of sibutramine usage in New Zealand during the first 3 years of marketing using data acquired during post-marketing safety surveillance.


Demographic and prescription data were examined from a nationwide cohort of 17 298 patients prescribed sibutramine between 1 February 2001 and 31 March 2004. Outcome measures were age and sex distribution of the cohort; period prevalence of sibutramine usage for each ethnic group; duration of treatment and reasons for cessation of therapy. Limited BMI data were also examined.


About 0.5% of the NZ population were prescribed sibutramine in the period studied. Overwhelmingly, the highest users of sibutramine were NZ European women aged 30–59 years. Maori and Pacific Peoples were under-represented in the cohort, despite the higher prevalence of obesity among these populations. Sibutramine usage was predominantly short-term: 59% of the cohort used sibutramine for 90 days or less, half of whom used it for only 1 month.


There has been extensive use of sibutramine in New Zealand. Sibutramine has been relatively under-utilised by Maori and Pacific ethnic groups, compared to New Zealand Europeans, despite their higher prevalence of obesity. A number of factors may have contributed to the predominantly short-term use of this medicine, including the cost of the medicine to the consumer, weight loss not meeting expectations and adverse effects of the medicine. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.