Noteworthy Fen-Phen: A shot in the dark

Revelations about the possible association of rare heart valve disorders with fenfluramine-phentermine obesity therapy (fen-phen) last week raised a new set of provocative charges against the therapies without conclusively providing any answers.

Among the issues missed in the rash of publicity surrounding the announcement by the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minn.), was the researchers' admitted lack of evidence for the action of the drugs on the heart condition. In addition, at least some of the affected patients were not clinically obese, and therefore not facing the risk of severe morbidities and mortality associated with extreme obesity, a key factor in the risk-benefit considerations surrounding clinical use of the drugs.