First of all, "fen-phen" was a two-diet-drug combination composed of FENfluramine and PHENtermine and the name derived from the fact that it was simply easier to say "fen-phen" than it was to say "fenfluramine and phentermine". It's extreme effectiveness was a result of the fact that fenfluramine and phentermine each caused weight loss in totally different ways so that there was no cross-tolerance between them.
In other words, using fenfluramine and phentermine together generally produced about twice as much weight loss and did either medication alone.Unfortunately what was unknown at the time was the fact that fenfluramine (but definitely NOT phentermine) caused heart valve damage in some people who took it. Once this became known in 1997, fenfluramine was quickly withdrawn from the US market.Belviq has some similarity to fenfluramine.
Namely, Belviq, like fenfluramine is the kind of medication known as a "serotonin agonist". This means that Belviq, like fenfluramine, works by directly binding to and activating proteins on cells called "serotonin receptors".
The difference lies with the fact that there are several different types of serotonin receptors and Belviq only binds well to the kind that suppress appetite.
Fenfluramine on the other hand bound well to ALL kinds of serotonin receptors and unfortunately it was by binding to one of those types that it caused heart valve damage. Because Belviq does NOT bind to that same receptor, there are good reasons to believe that Belviq is safe.Indeed, in human trials with Belviq conducted over the last several years, there has been no evidence to suggest that it causes heart valve damage.
It is because of both the way Belviq does and does not work as well as the human trial data that the FDA decided to approve Belviq.
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