Fenfluramine — Past Popular Weight-loss Drugs

Fenfluramine was a weight-loss drug that was introduced to the market in the early 1970s under the brand names Pondimin, Ponderax, and Adifax.  It quickly became one of the most popular weight-loss drugs of the day because of its claimed effectiveness. However, in 1997, the discovery of a link between fenfluramine use and heart disease led to a world-wide ban.

Pondimin began marketing in the United States in 1973. Prior to Pondimin’s introduction, most diet pills were amphetamine-based. Pondimin was considered an improvement, as it did not lend itself to the same kind of user abuse that amphetamines were known for. Later, it was combined with the drug phentermine to create the appetite suppressant drug combination fen-phen. In 1997, the results of a Mayo Clinic study appeared in the Aug. 28, 1997 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine and noted a suspected correlation between pulmonary hypertension and appetite-suppressing drugs.

The compound 3-trifluoromethyl-N-ethylamphetamine works in the brain performing different functions to fool the neurological system into weight loss. The chemical, fenfluramine, is an anorectic that releases an elevated amount of serotonin into a person’s system and suppresses the appetite of the user. The amphetamine in the combination helps to increase the metabolic rate so that the user burns calories faster, which also assists in weight loss.

Side Effects
Shortly after the introduction of fenfluramine, it was combined with another popular weight-loss drug known as phentermine. The combination of the two drugs, called Fen-phen, was supposed to cancel out the side effects of the other. The side effects of phentermine included difficulty sleeping, nervousness, irritability, and agitation. The combination of these two drugs proved problematic for a number of people primarily due to this medication. 3-Bromobenzotrifluoride (with the CAS number 401-78-5, has the IUPAC name of 1-bromo-3-(trifluoromethyl)benzene) is mainly used in the production of weight-loss drugs fenfluramine and so on.

In 1997, Pondimin and Redux were banned from the U.S. market due to its connection with heart disease. Other countries have since followed suit, and fenfluramine is currently banned world-wide. According to the New York Times, there have been about 40,000 lawsuits lawsuits filed against its manufacturer, American Home Products Corp. AHP changed its name to Wyeth in 2002. In 1999, American Home Products Corp. agreed to a $3.75 billion settlement.