What was it?
Actually, it was the simultaneous use of two separate drugs to effect weight loss.
One drug, Phentermine, releases a neurotransmitter, norepinephrine, that reduces appetite and separately causes more fat breakdown. (Drinking 3 to 4 quarts of water rinses these fat metabolites out through the urine.) Norepi also causes most people to feel more alert, but at higher doses, jittery. Sleeplessness is common when Phentermine is used alone.
The other drug, Fenfluramine, but going by the trade names, Pondimin and Redux, reduced appetite by releasing the neurotransmitter, serotonin. Serotonin makes most people feel relaxed, satisfied, even sleepy.
So, Phentermine and Fenfluramine complimented each other.
The problem was that excessive doses of Fenfluramine caused very high blood levels of serotonin which stimulated 5-HT2B receptors on heart valves and in the pulmonary arterial system. Fibrotic lesions of heart valves did result from excessive doses of Fenfluramine.
Fenfluramine also stimulated 5-HT2C receptors in the brain, resulting in the desired anorectic effect.
Belviq® (=Lorcaserin) launched on June 11, 2013. This drug stimulates only the desired 5-HT2C serotonin receptors in the brain as long as doses are kept with the recommended range or 10 to 20 mg per day. The FDA has approved Belviq for long-term use to control obesity.
What weight loss doctors have discovered is that the combination of Phentermine and Belviq mirrors the beneficial weight loss effects of Fen-Phen, but without the problems of heart valve issues.
Many of you used Fen-Phen without any problems, but were scared away by the negative publicity.
The patients arriving at the Mayo Clinic in 1996 with shortness of breath were found to have fibrosis of heart valves, leading some to have heart valve surgery. Those who did not have surgery typically got better on their on. This fact is reported in the medical literature, but was not reported by the press. They got better simply by discontinuing the Fenfluramine. Moreover, it was not widely reported that the patients having heart valve problems were typically taking 6 times the dose of Fenfluramine! Instead of taking 1 Pondimin pill, they were taking 6 of them!
Also, what is not stated in the press is the widely held attitude that people taking medication to lose weight are “cheating”, that it’s their fault that they are overweight. “If they would just diet and exercise and not give into their lusts, then they would be thin just like us moral people.”
If you have diabetes, it’s OK to take medication. If you have high blood pressure, you are not immoral taking medication. But, if you are overweight? You have to overcome your sin on your own.
And this attitude is hurtful. It shows a complete lack of understanding.
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