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Florida becomes first state to ban Fen-Phen use

Fen-phen and Heart Disease? September 9, 1997
Web posted at: 5:01 p.m. EDT (2101 GMT)

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (CNN) -- The diet pill combination known as Fen-Phen has been wildly popular among dieters, but people in Florida won't be allowed access to it, at least for a while. Citing a need to protect the public, Florida's medical regulators have imposed a 90-day ban on prescriptions for the diet pill combination known as Fen-Phen.

Under the emergency ban, unanimously adopted by the state Board of Medicine on Monday, the drug combination cannot be prescribed or administered to new patients, and current patients must be off the drugs within 30 days.

The combination of the drugs fenfluramine and phentermine work by altering brain chemistry to make people feel full after eating less food.

But The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned doctors of potential health risks of the drug in July, saying that Mayo Clinic studies linked the combination to rare heart-valve defects in 80 Fen-Phen patients.


One death in Florida has been linked to the drug. In July, Pat Mishcon, the wife of North Miami Beach's mayor, suffered a fatal heart attack. Doctors blame her death in part on Fen-Phen.

"This is an unfortunate case of a 53-year-old woman with previously undetected heart disease, who was given what are called diet pills improperly and inappropriately," said cardiologist Dr. Joel Zucker. "This, in my considered opinion, contributed to her premature death."

Florida's ban will remain in place until the state draws up strict rules for use of the drugs.

While Florida is the first state to ban the combination, a federal lawsuit pending in Washington seeks an FDA ban on the combination.

The suit was filed Friday by two organizations representing people who claim they have been injured by the drugs. The action seeks a declaration that "use of the combination of phentermine and fenfluramine constitutes an imminent public health hazard of epidemic proportions."

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