"THE HEART OF THE MATTER"
a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA)


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Transcripts: 548.1 and 548.2

Week: 548.1 Guest: Raymond Glen, co-author, The Phen-Fen Phenomenon Topic: America latches on to the newest diet drug- Part One of Two Producer/Host: Steve Girard

NEMA: When it's pet rocks, mood rings, goatees, earrings...it's a fad. But when millions of people around the country jump into the use of a new diet drug with both feet...it's a health concern, and a glimpse into how desperate we are to get and stay slim. Today, we're with Ray Glen, who along with Yansen Oei, a pharmacist, has written The Phen-Fen Phenomenon....I understand that Phen-Fen is actually a combination of two drugs.....

GLEN: Fentamine and Phenflouramine, which in the past has been used individually...by themselves, as diet drugs. It wasn't until more recently, around the early 90's that it was found putting them together actually canceled out some of the unbearable side effects that each one had. Both of them would cause dryness of the mouth, and the dizziness, and some people could not tolerate the actual effects that they caused.

NEMA: How many people are using Phen-fen right now?a

GLEN: I would literally say absolutely millions. Upon talking to pharmacists, all of them said not a day goes by without filling at least two prescriptions for Phen-fen.

NEMA: What are some of those misconceptions about the drug?

GLEN: Well, everybody thinks it's just a simple little thing, and of course, both drugs are actually controlled prescription medications. In fact, fentamine's a mild stimulant, Phenflouramine is actually a mild depressant, and although there are claims that say that the side effects are reduced, of course, they're not eliminated. Drowsiness still seems to come up a lot, dryness of the mouth, irritation, short temper. The tolerance of them just depends on the individual person.

NEMA: Seems the proper way to use these drugs would be to get an accurate dosage assessment from the doctor, and then have him monitor the patient to make sure it's right....Is that the reality right now...or do people just get on the drug and go?

GLEN: Well, actually it's a split, really. There's doctors who have studied the use and the protocol of Phen-fen. There's still doctors who will still not prescribe it at all...they don't believe in it, they won't use it. There's actually doctors who are familiar with it, but not too familiar with it, but still prescribe it. So I think it's important that your doctor is very familiar with the protocol of these drugs to make them work properly.

NEMA: Are the drugs really being given on a need basis right now..?

GLEN: In France, just to give you an example, the use of diet medications to lose weight has been restricted to people that only really need it...in a medical way. I mean somebody that has a, is morbidly obese, or over a hundred pounds overweight, are the only people allowed to actually get prescribed diet medication. It's unfortunate that many people see this...and they really only want to lose a little bit of weight, but I think it's not being viewed in this country as, "is the weight causing a health risk...strong enough to justify using pills to help lose the weight"?...it's all in the eyes of the prescribing physician.

NEMA: Is this a temporary tool for weight loss?

GLEN: Well, actually, according to the four year study conducted at Rochester University, they put them on, they took them off, they changed the dosage amounts. At the end of it, one thing shone through...when everyone was taken off the drugs for good, the majority of the people - I mean above 80% of the people - put all the weight back on, and in fact, gained a bit more. So what that indicated after the study, is that the drugs were a life-long medication.

NEMA: Millions of Americans are now riding the wave of the latest diet aid...only time will tell whether a good number of them get the full benefit of being able to control their eating. We have another drug to talk about with Ray Glen...Dexphenflouramine, or Redux...on our next program. I'm Steve Girard.

Transcripts:

Week: 548.2 Guest: Ray Glen, co-author, The Phen-Fen Phenomenon Topic: Dexphenflourimine- another diet drug, Part Two of two Producer/Host: Steve Girard

NEMA: The newest diet drug on the market is not the Fentamine- Phenflouramine cocktail that's all the rage. It's called Dexphenflouramine, or Dex-Phen, or Redux. We're talking with Ray Glen, who along with pharmacist Yansen Oei has written about both drugs in The Phen-Fen Phenomenon...

GLEN: Well, dexphenflouramine, you probably know it as Redux on the market, is actually been already been used in France and Europe for any years. It's just new to the United States. It actually got approved this year, after many battles with the FDA, saying, claiming that it had adverse effects on the heart, and actually was the main, leading cause for PPH, primary pulmonary hypertension. It's actually related to the Phenflouramine part, of the Fentamine-Phenflouramine combination. It's actually a little more -stronger, it actually works on the area of making you feel full. It's another mind drug, that makes your brain basically lie to you about the state you're in. It's proven not to be as popular as the combination, for some reason, for that reason I don't know yet, we're yet to find out. Again, it's been used previously in other countries for many years, but now there is a ban on it, as I say, only for people who are severely overweight, or overweight enough that it's causing a health risk to them.

NEMA: And the side effects for Dex-Phen, or Redux?

GLEN: Actually, they're listed as the same...as Phenflouramine, dryness of the mouth, diarrhea, dizziness, nervousness, occasional constipation...again, it's all potential side effects, not necessarily saying, "yes, that will happen", but that's what it's showing to do.

NEMA: In your research for the book...what have you found to be the up side of the increasing use of these drugs?

GLEN: Actually, there is a positive side, as much as medically looking at it sometimes... things sound very negative when you look at side effects, there are positive sides...there are many people who have had great successes with the drugs. And have been able to lose weight where they've never been able to do so before. For those people, weight gain, and staying at a higher weight has been a mind-thing...their mind telling them to eat at the wrong time, and the wrong foods...and these drugs seem to have worked. And in fact, in talking to many people, the majority have said, "yes, I've lost a lot of weight, and yes, I'm staying on the drugs, but I'm also keeping the weight off.

NEMA: What about interactions with other drugs?

GLEN: Of course, before you go on any medication, you should always let the physician know of anything else that you're on. More than not, depression related pills, such as Prozac, that kind of thing...drugs that actually work with your mind, like these drugs do. Also, some MAO inhibitors, I think was the main thing that we found...that you could not go on this medication for some time after you've used an MAO inhibitor. Hypertension related drugs are another thing to be wary of.

NEMA: Our thanks to Ray Glen, who along with Yansen Oei has put out a book called, The Phen-fen Phenomenon...which puts some perspective on our use of Fentamine Phenflouramine and Dexphenflouramine, or Redux. It seems the drugs are not the cure all for weight problems, rather a way for some of us to get over the hurdle of starting a weight loss program, and getting down to a healthier shape...if you have questions, talk with your physician. I'm Steve Girard.

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