A new study finds that the appetite suppression drug Fen-Phen, which was banned in the United States a decade ago after causing scores of patient deaths and serious injuries, left lingering damage to the heart valves of users.
Problems linked to the banned obesity drugs fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine, which together formed the blockbuster diet drug Fen-Phen, lasted for years after patients stopped taking the drugs, according to the study published online in BMC Medicine.
The study of more than 5,000 former Fen-Phen users conducted from 1997 to February 2004 found that nearly 20 percent of women and 12 percent of men still had at least mild regurgitation (blood leaking back through the heart valve) through the aortic valve or moderate regurgitation through the mitral valve.
The Food and Drug Administration ordered fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine off the market in September 1997 after the drugs were linked to heart valve problems. Fenfluramine was one of the ingredients in Fen-Phen, and dexfenfluramine is closely related to fenfluramine. The “Phen” in Fen-Phen refers to a drug called phentermine, which wasn’t banned.