The drug combination fenfluramine/phentermine, usually called fen-phen, was an anti-obesity treatment that used 2 anorectics. Fenfluramine was marketed by American Home Products (later on referred to as Wyeth) as Pondimin, yet was shown to create potentially deadly lung hypertension and also heart shutoff troubles, which eventually brought about its drawback as well as legal problems of over $13 billion. Phentermine was not shown to have unsafe effects.

Fenfluramine serves as a serotonin launching representative, phentermine as a norepinephrine, dopamine and also serotonin launching agent.

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Fenfluramine as a solitary drug was first presented in the 1970s, however was not preferred since it just temporarily lowered weight. A 1984 research study found a fat burning of 7.5 kilograms generally in 24 weeks, as compared with 4.4 kg under inactive medicine. It marketed decently until the 1990s, when it was integrated with phentermine and greatly marketed. A comparable medicine, aminorex, had triggered intense lung damage and also ‘provided factor to stress that similar medicines … could possibly increase the danger of a rare but frequently deadly lung condition, pulmonary hypertension.’ In 1994, Wyeth official Fred Wilson shared concerns concerning fenfluramine’s labeling containing only 4 cases of pulmonary high blood pressure when an overall of 41 had actually been noted, yet no activity was taken up until 1996. In 1995, Wyeth introduced dexfenfluramine (the dextro isomer, marketed as Redux), which it really hoped would certainly induce less damaging effects. Nonetheless, the clinical officer of the Fda (FDA), Leo Lutwak, insisted after a black box precaution of lung hypertension risks. After Lutwak chose not to accept the medicine, the FDA administration had another person sign it and approved the drug with no black box caution for advertising and marketing in 1996. European regulators needed a significant caution of pulmonary high blood pressure risks.

In 1996, a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) from the Mayo Facility went over clinical searchings for in 24 clients which had taken fen-phen. The authors noted that their findings recommended a feasible connection in between mitral shutoff dysfunction and making use of these anorectic representatives. Later in 1996, a 30-year-old female established heart troubles after a month of using it, when she passed away in February 1997, the Boston Herald dedicated a front page article to her. The FDA signaled clinical physicians that it had obtained nine added records of the exact same type, as well as asked for all health and wellness treatment professionals to report any type of such instances to the agency’s MedWatch routine, or to their particular pharmaceutical makers. The FDA subsequently obtained over a hundred extra records of valvular heart problem in clients taking fen-phen, fenfluramine alone or dexfenfluramine alone. The FDA requested that the suppliers of fenfluramine and also dexfenfluramine stress the possible risk to the heart in the drugs’ labeling and also in individual plan inserts. As of 1997, the FDA was proceeding to get reports of valvular heart condition personallies that had taken these drugs. This disease commonly entails the aortic and mitral valves.

After records of valvular heart problem and also lung hypertension, largely in females which had actually been going through treatment with fen-phen or (dex)fenfluramine, the FDA requested its withdrawal from the market in September 1997.

The activity was based upon workings with from medical professionals which had reviewed patients taking these two drugs with echocardiograms, a procedure that can check the functioning of heart valves. The findings showed that approximately 30 percent of assessed people had irregular echocardiograms, despite the fact that they had no signs. This percentage of irregular test outcomes was a lot more than would be expected from a comparatively sized sample of the population that had not been exposed to either fenfluramine or dexfenfluramine.


Upon the launch of the details pertaining to fen-phen’s cardiac risks, the Association of Trial Lawyers of The u.s.a developed a huge test attorney group to seek damages from American Residence Products, the representative of fenfluramine as well as dexfenfluramine.

Fen-phen is no more widely available. In April 2005, American Lawyer journal ran a cover story on the wave of fen-phen lawsuits, reporting that more compared to 50,000 product liability lawsuits had been filed by supposed fen-phen sufferers. Estimates of complete responsibility ran as high as $14 billion. Since February 2005, Wyeth was still in settlements with hurt events, offering negotiations of $5,000 to $200,000 to a few of those who had actually sued, as well as mentioning they may supply even more to those which were most seriously hurt. One plaintiff’s lawyer declared that ‘the settlements [were] not going to be big sufficient to cover medical costs.’ Thousands of damaged individuals denied these deals. At the time, Wyeth revealed it has reserved $21.1 billion (U.S.) to cover the expense of the lawsuits.

Possible uses


In 1984, researchers at the College of Rochester Medical Facility reported that they had performed a double-blind, controlled scientific test comparing phentermine alone, fenfluramine alone, a combination of phentermine and also fenfluramine, as well as inactive medicine, for weight loss in people. Fat burning in those getting the fen-phen combination was considerably greater (8.4 ± 1.1 kg) than in those obtaining sugar pill (4.4 ± 0.9 kg) and also equal to that of those getting fenfluramine (7.5 ± 1.2 kg) or phentermine alone (10.0 ± 1.2 kg). This totals to an additional weight-loss of 4 ± 2 kg during 24 weeks. Adverse impacts were much less frequent with the mix routine than with the other active (non-placebo) treatments. The writers felt that incorporating fenfluramine and phentermine maximized their pharmacodynamic differences, resulting in equivalent weight management, less negative impacts, and more ideal appetite control.


The term fen-phen was coined in 1994 when Pietr Hitzig and Richard B. Rothman reported that this combo might presumably pay liquor as well as drug desire. The writers suggested that combined dopamine and serotonin agonists or forerunners may share this restorative capacity. Subsequent experiments in rats assisted these initial reports. In 2006 it was verified that the mix of phentermine as well as the serotonin forerunner 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), in place of fenfluramine, significantly decreased alcoholic beverages drawback seizures in rats.

Intramural National Institutes of Health (NIH) double-blind procedures to demonstrate the efficacy of fen-phen in liquor as well as drug dependency were designed, but never ever performed.

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Adverse effects

The findings on fen-phen, specifically fenfluramine, triggering valvular heart problem as well as lung hypertension motivated a revived interest in the negative impacts of wide spread serotonin. It had actually currently been known for decades that 2 of the significant side-effects of the carcinoid syndrome, in which excessive serotonin is produced endogenously, are valvular disease and lung high blood pressure. Several centers were able to note a relationship to a too much activation of the serotonin receptor subtype 5-HT2B.

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In Popular Culture

Fen-phen is referenced in Period 2, Episode 14 of Jailed Development
Fen-phen is likewise referenced in Period 2, Episode 1 of Scrubs.

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