Appetite-suppressant drugs and the risk of primary pulmonary hypertension

Lucien Abenhaim*, Yola Moride, François Brenot, Stuart Rich, Jacques Benichou, Xavier Kurz, Tim Higenbottam, Celia Oakley, Emil Wouters, Michel Aubier, Gérald Simonneau, Bernard Bégaud

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1020 Scopus citations


Background: Recently in France, primary pulmonary hypertension developed in a cluster of patients exposed to derivatives of fenfluramine in appetite suppressants (anorexic agents), which are used for weight control. We investigated the potential role of anorexic agents and other suspected risk factors for primary pulmonary hypertension. Methods: In a case-control study, we assessed 95 patients with primary pulmonary hypertension from 35 centers in France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands and 355 controls recruited from general practices and matched to the patients' sex and age. Results: The use of anorexic drugs (mainly derivatives of fenfluramine) was associated with an increased risk of primary pulmonary hypertension (odds ratio with any anorexic-drug use, 6.3; 95 percent confidence interval, 3.0 to 13.2). For the use of anorexic agents in the preceding year, the odds ratio was 10.1 (95 percent confidence interval, 3.4 to 29.9). When anorexic drugs were used for a total of more than three months, the odds ratio was 23.1 (95 percent confidence interval, 6.9 to 77.7). We also confirmed an association with several previously identified risk factors: a family history of pulmonary hypertension, infection with the human immunodeficiency virus, cirrhosis, and use of cocaine or intravenous drugs. Conclusions: The use of anorexic drugs was associated with the development of primary pulmonary hypertension. Active surveillance for this disease should be considered, particularly since the use of anorexic drugs is expected to increase in the near future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-616
Number of pages8
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 29 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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