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J Clin Psychopharmacol. 1988 Aug;8(4):261-9.

Treatment of bulimia with fenfluramine and desipramine.

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Department of Psychiatry, Ottawa Civic Hospital, Ontario, Canada.


Desipramine and fenfluramine were administered to bulimic patients in a 15-week study of double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design. The 22 patients in the study met DSM-III criteria for bulimia and were of normal weight. Twelve subjects were randomly allocated to the fenfluramine group, and 10 subjects received desipramine. Half the subjects in each group received the active drug in the first 6 weeks and half received placebo. There was a 3-week washout period, after which subjects were crossed over for the remaining 6 weeks. The Eating Disorder Inventory, profile of Mood States, bulimia symptom checklists, and Hopkins Symptom Checklist were administered at weeks 0, 2, 4, 6, 9, 11, 13, and 15. Subjects maintained a daily record of bingeing, vomiting, and laxative/diuretic abuse. Results indicated that both drugs had beneficial effects on bingeing and vomiting frequency, although a greater proportion of patients were identified who responded to fenfluramine than to desipramine. Fenfluramine and desipramine were also effective in reducing the psychological symptoms of bulimia, such as the urge to binge, and feelings of depression. Results suggest that direct alteration of central food intake regulatory centers can effectively control bulimia.

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