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Research Article

Plasma fenfluramine levels, weight loss, and side effects.

Br Med J 1977; 2 doi: (Published 19 November 1977) Cite this as: Br Med J 1977;2:1322
  1. J A Innes,
  2. M L Watson,
  3. M J Ford,
  4. J F Munro,
  5. M E Stoddart,
  6. D B Campbell


    Fifty women with refractory obesity received fenfluramine for 20 weeks. Every two weeks details of weight change, drug dose, degree of anorexia, and any side effects were recorded and plasma was obtained for fenfluramine and norfenfluramine measurements. Of the 41 patients available for final analysis 26 achieved a maximum plateau dose of 160 mg/day. Plasma fenfluramine concentrations did not correlate with the degree of anorexia or with the incidence of side effects other than the severity of dream disturbance. There was a highly significant relation between weight loss and plasma fenfluramine and norfenfluramine concentrations and also between weight loss and the presence of sustained anorexia. Women who achieved mean plateau concentrations over 200 ng/ml lost a mean 8.8 kg while those with concentrations less than 100 ng/ml lost a mean of only 2.1 kg. When fenfluramine is prescribed in refractory obesity the dose should be increased stepwise until either satisfactory weight loss is achieved or troublesome side effects appear.