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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 15277

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.

 

Publication type: news

Russell MW.
Phentermine For Weight Loss - My Story
Self Help Blog 2009 Mar 14
http://www.drmartinrussell.com/phentermine-for-weight-loss-my-story/


Notes:

Internal links not included here


Full text:

As I was cleaning out some of my old medical files I came across a couple of letters from 1998 about the weight loss drug phentermine.

Back in 1998 I was reading the material of a medical organisation called MaLAM, which monitors and lobbies pharmaceutical companies on their advertising.

Always a fascinating read, but this time they had sent a letter to 3M Pharmaceuticals with questions about their Duromine brand of phentermine.

Phentermine has been around as a weight loss medication since the 1959, and is only recommended for short-term use eg 3 months at most.

The first question was the kicker…

“1. Does 3M have any evidence that the short-term of [sic] Duromine leads to long-term reduction in weight, total morbidity and total mortality?”

ie does Duromine work?

And 3M’s reply…

“…there is no evidence in the medical literature or from 3M studies suggesting that long term reduction in weight, total morbidity and total mortality can be expected from the use of short term adjunctive appetite suppression with phentermine.”

Hmm.

So did 3M just say phentermine is useless?

That’s how I read it.

This letter was the moment I stopped using the currently available medications for weight loss.

That left me with only lifestyle options to offer my patients and I’ve written before about my issues with exercise and dieting.

But today in 2009 maybe something has changed for phentermine in the past 10 years.

Nup.

Wikipedia still says, “Since the drug was approved in 1959 there have been almost no clinical studies performed. The most recent study was in 1990…” ie well before this 1998 letter.

Sad. Really sad.

Go read my Amazon review if you want an alternative.

 

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Cases of wilful misrepresentation are a rarity in medical advertising. For every advertisement in which nonexistent doctors are called on to testify or deliberately irrelevant references are bunched up in [fine print], you will find a hundred or more whose greatest offenses are unquestioning enthusiasm and the skill to communicate it.

The best defence the physician can muster against this kind of advertising is a healthy skepticism and a willingness, not always apparent in the past, to do his homework. He must cultivate a flair for spotting the logical loophole, the invalid clinical trial, the unreliable or meaningless testimonial, the unneeded improvement and the unlikely claim. Above all, he must develop greater resistance to the lure of the fashionable and the new.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963