August 22, 2003, Newsletter Issue #151: Half of Phen-Fen

Tip of the Week

Phentermine and fenfluramine were two weight loss drugs that had been around a long time, but were not very effective and patients taking them were subject to unpleasant side effects. One was a stimulant and one a depressant. Someone started putting them together thinking that they would offset the side effects for each other. This was the Phen-Fen drug, which was very successful, but eventually was withdrawn because it caused heart valve damage in many people (as well as other physical problems). The FDA never approved the combination drug. Fenfluramine was withdrawn from the market as it was deemed to cause the heart damage. This left Phentermine, which is now being promoted on the Internet, but this is the same old drug that had been found ineffective and subject to causing side effects. Phentermine is an appetite suppressant. Patients tend to develop a tolerance, and the drug generally loses effectiveness after a few weeks. Thus it is prescribed for short term use in conjunction with caloric restriction. Potential side effects include headache, insomnia, overstimulation, high blood pressure, and gastrointestinal problems. There is danger of addiction, as the drug acts in a similar way to amphetemines. This is no magic pill that will solve your weight problems. Eat right and work out. (drug facts from

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