Fen-Phen and Phentermine

Did you know that the infamous Fen-Phen was a combo of 2 different weight loss medicines?  Fenfluramine first came out in the 1970s, but was not popular because it only temporarily reduced weight by a few pounds.  In the 1990s when it was combined with phentermine it got heavy marketing and gained popularity.  Already in 1994, an official from Wyeth became concerned about the medication's label noting only 4 cases of pulmonary hypertension when 41 had actually been seen but no action was taken until 1996 when a study in the New England Journal of Medicine found a 23-fold increase in pulmonary hypertension.  Then in 1996, a 30 year old woman developed heart problems after only a month of using Fen-Phen and she died in February 1997.

In July 1997, after a technician observed heart abnormalities, researchers at the Ma yo Clinic released a report on 24 cases of rare heart valve disease in women who took Fen-phen and the FDA alerted doctors that there were also 9 additional reports of the same type, and asked all health care professionals to report such cases.  66 additional reports of heart valve disease, all primarily associated with Fen-phen came in and the FDA requested that the manufacturers stress the potential risk to the heart in the drugs' labeling and in patient package inserts. The FDA continued to receive reports of cardiac valve disease in people taking the drugs.

Luckily today, people looking to lose excess weight still have access to one of the Fen Phen ingredients which is safe, called Phentermine.  Phentermine, a blend of "phenyl-tertiary-butylamine," is approved as an appetite suppressant to help reduce weight in obese patients when used short-term and combined with exercise, diet, and behavioral modification. Phendimetrazine is used as a short-term supplement to diet and exercise in the treatment of obesity.   Phentermine first received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1959 as an appetite suppressant for the short-term treatment of obesity.