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Wednesday, 12 April, 2000, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Slimming drug banned
Pills
Only two slimming drugs are now available in the UK
The slimming drug Phentermine has been banned in the UK after fears it could cause heart disease.

The drug, marketed as Duromine and Ionamin, has been linked to leakage in the heart valves.

It is thought that some slimming clubs were distributing the drug without fully explaining the associated risks.

Government figures show that only 20,000 NHS prescriptions for the drug were issued in 1998.



The risks of developing hypertension or heart disorders outweighed the benefits of taking the drug

Department of Health spokeswoman

However, it is estimated that more than 100,000 women use the drug - the majority purchasing it from the private sector.

Phentermine is an appetite suppressant, which acts on the nervous system in a way similar to amphetamine.

The decision to ban the drug was taken after a similar ruling by the European Medical Evaluation Agency.

A Department of Health spokeswoman told BBC News Online: "No licence will be issued for the drug after April 9.

"This is in line with the directions of a European Commission safety review which found that the risks of developing hypertension or heart disorders outweighed the benefits of taking the drug."

The banning of Phentermine means that there are now only two slimming drugs available in the UK - methylcellulose and orlistat.

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See also:

13 Jan 99 | Health
Tough guidance on obesity drugs
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