Drugs like fenfluramine and phentermine, which are used for weight loss are categorized as appetite suppressants inducing mild and controlled ‘anorexic’ conditions. Pharmacologically, they belong to sympathomimetic amines class of drugs.
What Are Sympathomimetic Amines?
These are chemicals, which increase the neurotransmitter activity, or stimulate the sympathetic nervous system. They imitate the activities of compounds such as epinephrine, ephedrine, isoproterenol etc. (produce adrenergic activity of the nerve). For instance, ephedrine is used wherever an improvement in lung function is required (e.g. to treat cases of asthma or allergy).
After this product was off the market shelves, consumers who wanted to lose weight started consuming other medicines (anti-allergic), which contained active ingredients as ephredine (which are known to help in shedding weight).
Consuming medicines without having the actual disorder can lead to a battery of unexpected and harmful side effects. The basic way in which anorexiants act is by impacting the brain (stimulating hypothalamus and limbic regions) helping it to suppress the person’s appetite. Some of these are sold under the name of:
- Phentermine ( Phentercot, Adipex-P, Suprenza Ionamin, T-Diet, Zantryl etc.)
- phendimetrazine (Adipost)
- Mazindol (Sanorex)
- methamphetamine (Desoxyn Gradumet)
Before Fen Phen was off the market, it was commonly sold as over-the-counter drug. Now, drugs like phentermine are to be sold only on prescription.
Why Was It Decided To Take The Drug Off The Market?
Results with fen/phen (dexfenfluramine and fenfluramine) were known to seriously affect cardiovascular health of an individual and pose health risks (e.g. withdrawal). In extreme cases, it also caused death and hence, was taken off the shelves in the market.
However, Phentermine was able to escape this banishment and was considered safe to be consumed by physicians (in conjugation with other, newer drugs like topiramate oralone). However, when it was taken along with fenfluramine, this combination was lethal for heart valves. After it was found out that fen caused damage to heart valves, Doctors recommended the use of products like Phen 375.
Fen increased the activity of serotonin receptors of the brain, leading to heart valve damage. Despite being commonly considered to be the ‘happy hormone’, higher levels of serotonin can actually be detrimental for the human body. All this instigated the removal of these drugs from the market.
There are drugs available in the market (like Phentermin- D), which is permitted to be sold, but only on prescription. Products like Raspberry Ketone and Garcinia Cambogia are extensively used by the people who want to lose body weight. More information on them can be found on the internet.