A common component in many OTC diet pills and cold pills, often referred to as PPA. It is an appetite suppressant, systemic nasal decongestant, and a adrenergic sympathomimetic agent.

From Yale:

Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) is a synthetic sympathomimetic amine structurally similar to pressor amines (i.e., epinephrine, phenylephrine, and ephedrine) and central nervous system stimulants (i.e., ephedrine, amphetamine). It is a common ingredient in cough-cold remedies and appetite suppressants. Each year, billions of doses are consumed in the United States, making PPA one of the most commonly used non-prescription medications.
From the FDA:
Phenylpropanolamine has been marketed for many years. During the early 1970's, FDA initiated a scientific review of OTC drug products to determine the safety and effectiveness of products marketed in the United States. That review included phenylpropanolamine. In 1976, one expert panel recommended that phenylpropanolamine be generally recognized as safe and effective as a nasal decongestant, and in 1982 another expert panel recommended that phenylpropanolamine be generally recognized as safe and effective for weight control. FDA did not finalize a safe and effective status for phenylpropanolamine because of concerns about occasional reports of hemorrhagic stroke associated with using this drug.
On November 6, 2000, the FDA asked drug companies to stop selling PPA products and began informing the public of the risk of stroke in light of a Yale study that associated PPA with a temporary 15-fold increase in the risk of hemorrhagic stroke in young women. The FDA intends to ban PPA from all drugs shortly. More information may be found at http://www.fda.gov/cder/drug/infopage/ppa/default.htm

More scary propaganda from the government:

It acts on many different parts of the body. PPA produces effects that may be helpful or harmful. This depends on a patient's individual condition and response and the amount of medicine taken.

Phenylpropanolamine clears nasal congestion (stuffy nose) by narrowing or constricting the blood vessels. However, this same action may cause an increase in blood pressure in patients who have hypertension (high blood pressure).

Phenylpropanolamine also decreases appetite. However, the way PPA and similar medicines do this is unclear. Stimulation of the central nervous system (CNS) may be a major reason. Phenylpropanolamine in combination with dieting, exercise, and changes in eating habits can help obese patients lose weight. However, this appetite-reducing effect is only temporary, and is useful only for the first few weeks of dieting until new eating habits are established.

Phenylpropanolamine has caused serious side effects (even death) when too much was taken.

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