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Fenfluramine (Pondimin©) and Dexfenfluramine (Redux©) were popular weight loss drugs in the mid-1990s. They were taken off the market in 1997. An FDA investigation supported by a Mayo Clinic Study suggested that one-third of users of the medication developed serious heart valve damage often requiring cardiac surgery. They have also been associated with pulmonary hypertension, a life threatening disease involving the progressive narrowing of blood vessels in the lungs. It is characterized by progressive shortness of breath, and is incurable. The FDA stated that in findings from doctors who evaluated patients taking Fenfluramine and Dexfenfluramine with echo-cardiograms, approximately 30 percent of patients had abnormal echo-cardiograms, even though they had no symptoms. This is a much higher than expected percentage of abnormal test results. Additionally, a Mayo Clinic study that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on August 28, 1997 suggested that as high as one-third of a patient sampling of Fen-Phen diet pill users had evidence of heart valve disease. The study found that there was a high incidence of heart valve disease in patients taking these diet pills, without any other known reason for valve disease. In addition to heart valve disease, the use of Fenfluramine and Dexfenfluramine has been found to increase the risk of developing Primary Pulmonary Hypertension or (PPH). PPH is a rare disease of that causes the progressive narrowing of the blood vessels of the lungs. Studies estimate that treatment with certain appetite suppressant drugs tends to increase the chances of developing PPH by approximately 25 to 30%.
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