The diet drugs fenfluramine – “Fen-phen”

Popular name for a combination of the diet drugs fenfluramine and phentermine. Created by a French pharmaceutical company in the early 1970s, fenfluramine–which entered the American market in 1973–languished for a decade as an occasionally effective diet drug that commonly induced sleep in its users.

Fen-phen was born in the late 1980s when Dr. Michael Weintraub of the University of Rochester added a mild amphetamine-like substance called phentermine to fenfluramine (or Pondimin), thus eliminating the energy drag. In 1992, Weintraub and several colleagues published a study that showed fen-phen to be far more effective than dieting or exercise in reducing the weight of the chronically obese, and fen-phen was soon on the market.

Unlike an earlier generation of speed-laden diet drugs, fen-phen seemed to be without immediate side effects. Along with Redux (or dexfenfluramine, a more refined compound that boasts fewer side effects and, like fen-phen affects seratonin levels), fen-phen–which… Continue reading