Phentermine For Weight Loss – My Story

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.”


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.


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.

-Dr Martin Russell

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9 thoughts on “Phentermine For Weight Loss – My Story”

  1. Dr Russell,
    It almost always seems to be this way. Medications that are supposed to be the magic bullet for some essentially fictional* disease (ED for instance), almost never does anything, or has appalling (side) effects. Instead of beer and cigarette ads these days, in the US, we get constantly bombarded with ads requesting that we diagnose ourselves and request the MD to feed us the drugs that will cure it. This leads to an imaginary ailment with (possibly) real symptoms. The physicians are reduced to order-takers, and when the drugs don’t work or cause a spontaneous eruption of gills or some other complication, the patients re-diagnose themselves and pop round to the MD to have a new round of “can’t fail” medical mayhem. After a while, the new drugs are just to surpress the unwanted effects of the old drugs, and eventually the patient and physician are both so confused that it becomes very easy to accidentally bring on death. Death it is an advertised side-effect of many of these designer cure-alls.
    I see a similar pattern in my chosen field, network security. Customers choose solutions based upon fear instilled by the ads the solution-providers dish out. The solutions may be ineffective because they are solving problems the customer doesn’t have or making the customer neglect the vulnerabilities in their network. Industry has trained all of these consumers well.

  2. I’m the founder of MaLAM and wrote that letter about Duromine. I apologise for missing a word in the question. Good to see that our old work is still making a difference.

    We changed our name to Healthy Skepticism in 2000. We will be moving to a much better website later this year.

  3. Wolf,

    With my marketing work I find that these issues get even more highlighted, just as you say. It applies across a range of fields and most doctors are totally oblivious to their ability to be influenced – they think only patients are the suggestible ones 🙂


    Nice to catch up again. Hope you are still getting to speak to medical students and catch them when young. Glyn Brokensha was a mentor of mine and I came in to watch when he invited you to speak to the medical school.

    The MaLAM link goes to the correct site, but good idea to mention the new name. As long as the new website also keeps the archives, I’m looking forward to it!

    Keep up the great – and needed – work!

  4. Dennis Dalton says:

    Phentermine? What an odd thing, to produce a drug that essentially does nothing? What other useless drugs are out there I wonder?

  5. Oh Dennis – Phentermine doesn’t do nothing. It creates profits! 🙂

    You might like to supply us with your own list of useless drugs but I’m sure we would both agree it would be a long, long list.

    Even longer if we included the ones that are useful but used in useless ways eg antibiotics for a sore throat.

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  7. It is useful to recognize the origin of the perspective on a particular subject. More specifically, the source of an opinion about a drug relates to whether that person stems from a)the practical experience as a drug user, b)the personal expeirence of a drug prescriber, c) the view of someone completely outside health professions and the health care system, d) health administration, e) health care assistants to physicians, f) pharmacy, g) drug reps, h) government, i) other. If a person’s livlihood is at all linked to the pharmeceutical industry, then opinion is likely linked to vested interest, conscious or unconscious. Raising awareness helps yo ufigure out your camp and motivations for it.

  8. SickOfBeingConned says:

    They have changed the ingredients in Phentermine. It used to actually work but now it is a total joke. Obviously, they want to keep their American “cash cow” fat and sick. That’s why they took away herbal ephedra which actually worked even better than the old phentermine, that also worked but no longer works because they have removed most of the active ingredients and left just enough to make you feel all the bad side effects and none of the good. America is totally screwed by all these globalist corporations, Big Pharma, FDA and all the other alphabet soup thug agencies.

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