June 21, 2011
Since it was first recognized phentermine has been a prescription drug since it was first approved by the FDA over five decades ago. The reason why the drug is controlled is easy to understand- phentermine is a powerful amphetamine with addictive qualities and dangerous interactions with other drugs. Still, it remain widely popular and available to this day, and there are numerous phentermine alternatives out there on the market for those who want the former’s weight loss effectiveness while maximizing its convenience. Read on to learn more about the prescription status of phentermine and what you can take that mimics its effects in a safer and more convenient medication.
Phentermine’s Approval and Drug Status
Phentermine was first approved by the FDA in 1959 for use in its resin form, and then in the beginning of the 1970’s the drug was approved in its phentermine HCL form. While the drug has been popular and anecdotally effective for the entire time it’s been available to the public, it actually has barely been studied. Aside from studies involving the effects of combining phentermine with fenfluramine, there has been little to no clinical examination of the drug.
Phentermine and Fenfluramine
The clinical studies combining phentermine with fenfluramine deserve special note in terms of the former’s prescription status. In the early 1990’s a clinical trial concluded and a paper was published showing how the two drugs, when taken concurrently, maximize their weight loss effects and produce reliably dramatic results. This became the widely known and used prescription drug cocktail of Phen-fen that was incredibly popular throughout much of the 1990’s.
Now, the health implications and safety of these drugs in combination was never studied because the FDA only studies and approves one drug at a time. Using both of these drugs at once was considered and off label use of them drugs, but was totally legal as doctors are allowed to prescribe whatever drugs they want, in whatever combination they want, provided all of those drugs passed the FDA’s scrutiny.
The Problem with Phen-fen
Because of this oversight it took about 6 years before anyone realized that Phen-fen produced serous heart valve problems in at least 30% of users who took the cocktail to lose weight. It was at this time the phentermine’s status as a legal prescription drug was most in question. Ultimately the problem was resolved when drug manufacturers voluntarily removed fenfluramine (and its cousin drug dexfenfluramine) off the market, leaving phentermine legal and available to this day.
Phentermine’s Own Problems
Aside from its dangerous nature when used in combination with other drugs, phentermine provides a variety of nasty potential side effects on its own. It’s for this reason, and for the relative inconvenience of attaining a prescription drug compared to an over the counter drug, that phentermine alternatives have been soaring in popularity in recent years.
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