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It is approved as an appetite suppressant to help reduce weight in obese patients when used short-term and combined with exercise, diet, and behavioral modification. It is typically prescribed for individuals who are at increased medical risk because of their weight and works by helping to release certain chemicals in the brain that control appetite.
Commercial trade names
In 1959 phentermine first received approval from the FDA as an appetite suppressing drug. Phentermine hydrochloride then became available in the early 1970s. It was previously sold as Fastin® from King Pharmaceuticals for SmithKline Beecham, however in 1998 it was removed from the market. Medeva Pharmaceuticals sells the name brand of phentermine called Ionamin® and Gate Pharmaceuticals sells it as Adipex-P®. Phentermine is also currently sold as a generic. Since the drug was approved in 1959 there have been almost no clinical studies performed. The most recent study was in 1990 which combined phentermine with fenfluramine or dexfenfluramine and became known as Fen-Phen.
A study was published in 1992 that Fen-Phen was more effective than diet and exercise with few side effects. However, in 1997 after 24 cases of heart valve disease in Fen-Phen users, fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine were voluntarily taken off the market at the request of the FDA. Studies later proved that nearly 30% of people taking fenfluramine or dexfenfluramine had abnormal valve findings. The FDA did not ask manufacturers to remove phentermine from the market.
Phentermine is still available by itself in most countries, including the U.S. However, because it is similar to amphetamines, individuals may develop an addiction to it. Hence, it is classified as a controlled substance in many countries. Internationally, phentermine is a schedule IV drug under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances. In the United States, it is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act.
Mechanism of action
Phentermine, like many other prescription drugs, works with neurotransmitters in the brain. It is a centrally-acting stimulant and is a constitutional isomer (not to be confused with stereoisomer) of methamphetamine. It stimulates neuron bundles to release a particular group of neurotransmitters known as catecholamines; these include dopamine, epinephrine (also known as adrenalin), and norepinephrine (noradrenaline). The anorectic activity seen with these compounds is thus likely due to their effect on the central nervous system, which is consistent with current knowledge about the central nervous system and feeding behavior. This is the same mechanism of action as other stimulant appetite suppressants such as diethylpropion and phendimetrazine. The neurotransmitters signal a fight-or-flight response in the body which, in turn, puts a halt to the hunger signal. As a result, it causes a loss in appetite because the brain does not receive the hunger message.
Dosing and administration
Generally, it is recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that phentermine should be used short-term (usually interpreted as 'up to 12 weeks'), while following nonpharmacological approaches to weight loss such as healthy dieting and exercise. However, recommendations limiting its use for short-term treatment may be controversial. One reason given behind limiting its use to 12 weeks is drug tolerance, whereby phentermine loses its appetite-suppressing effects after the body adjusts to the drug. On the contrary, it has been shown that phentermine did not lose effectiveness in a 36-week trial. Due to the risk of insomnia, it is generally recommended that the drug be taken either before breakfast or 1-2 hours after breakfast.
Contraindications and warnings
Generally, phentermine appears to be relatively well tolerated. It can produce side effects consistent with its catecholamine-releasing properties, e.g., tachycardia (increased heart rate) and elevated blood pressure, but the incidence and magnitude of these appear to be less than with the amphetamines. Because phentermine acts through sympathomimetic pathways, the drug may increase blood pressure and heart rate. It may also cause palpitations, restlessness, and insomnia. Additionally, phentermine has the potential to cause physical and psychological dependence.
More Common Symptoms
Less Common to Rare Symptoms
Possible Overdose Symptoms
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Phentermine". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|