Eric Colman, MD
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and should not be construed as representing the official position of the Food and Drug Administration.
Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed.
Requests for Single Reprints: Eric Colman, MD, Division of Metabolic and Endocrine Drug Products, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, HFD-510, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beginning with the passage of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in 1938 and escalating with the 1962 Kefauver-Harris amendments, increasing pressure has been placed on pharmaceutical manufacturers to demonstrate that a drug's benefits outweigh its risks. Nowhere has the question of risk versus benefit come under greater scrutiny than with anorectics. After the approval in the 1940s and 1950s of a number of amphetamine and amphetamine-like compounds for the treatment of obesity, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration struggled to define the efficacy and safety of these agents. Labeling restrictions on duration of use and warnings about abuse and addiction ultimately contributed to the reduced use of anorectics. That trend continued until the mid-1990s, when the off-label use of fenfluramine plus phentermine (fen-phen) and the approval of dexfenfluramine gave rise to widespread, long-term use of anorectics to treat obesity. The adverse effects that came to be associated with fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine, leading to their eventual withdrawal from the market, gave pause to regulators, physicians, patients, and drug companies alike. Sibutramine, the latest anorectic to enter the market, is now the focus of a landmark trial that is examining, for the first time, whether drug-induced weight loss reduces the risk for fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular disease.
Table. U.S. Food and Drug Administration-Approved Anorectics, 1947–1997
The In the Clinic® slide sets are owned and copyrighted by the American College of Physicians (ACP). All text, graphics, trademarks, and other intellectual property incorporated into the slide sets remain the sole and exclusive property of the ACP. The slide sets may be used only by the person who downloads or purchases them and only for the purpose of presenting them during not-for-profit educational activities. Users may incorporate the entire slide set or selected individual slides into their own teaching presentations but may not alter the content of the slides in any way or remove the ACP copyright notice. Users may make print copies for use as hand-outs for the audience the user is personally addressing but may not otherwise reproduce or distribute the slides by any means or media, including but not limited to sending them as e-mail attachments, posting them on Internet or Intranet sites, publishing them in meeting proceedings, or making them available for sale or distribution in any unauthorized form, without the express written permission of the ACP. Unauthorized use of the In the Clinic slide sets will constitute copyright infringement.
Colman E. Anorectics on Trial: A Half Century of Federal Regulation of Prescription Appetite Suppressants. Ann Intern Med. 2005;143:380-385. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-143-5-200509060-00013
Download citation file:
Published: Ann Intern Med. 2005;143(5):380-385.
Copyright © 2017 American College of Physicians. All Rights Reserved.
Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
Conditions of Use
This PDF is available to Subscribers Only