Fen-phen is a combination diet drug therapy that was widely prescribed before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined it was potentially deadly. Eventually, the FDA strongly advised the maker of these drugs, Wyeth, that it should remove its diet drugs from the U.S. market.
Use of fen-phen, a combination of fenfluramine (“fen,” an appetite depressant) and phentermine (“phen,” drug similar to amphetamines), was a diet craze in the 1990s. Many patients were prescribed dexfenfluramine, or “dexfen.” As many as 6 million Americans, mostly women, used fen-phen or dexfen before Wyeth’s “FEN” diet drugs (Pondimin and Redux) were withdrawn from the market in September, 1997.
American Home Products Company (now renamed “Wyeth”) manufactured and marketed fenfluramine under the brand name “Pondimin.” Interneuron Pharmaceuticals manufactured dexfenfluramine but Wyeth and Interneuron marketed “Redux” as a team.
Several studies linked fen-phen to heart damage and primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH), which is an irreversible disease that usually leads to heart failure.
Fenfluramine and phentermine had been approved for years as short-term diet aids, but were not particularly effective or popular. Then a doctor combined fenfluramine and phentermine as “fen-phen,” thinking since they were FDA-approved they would be safe. He also thought long-term use of diet drugs was the key to weight loss.
Because each separate drug had been approved for use by the FDA, doctors were authorized to prescribe them as they saw fit. Soon, millions of weight-conscious American women were taking fen-phen.
In April, 1996, Wyeth also began to market dexfenfluramine (brand named, Redux), a chemical derivative of fenfluramine (brand named Pondimin).
In 1997, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., revealed that 24 women using fenfluramine or dexfenfluramine developed a serious Valvular Heart Disease (“VHD”). Within months, the FDA had hundreds of similar reports from multiple medical centers.
This prompted the FDA to ask Wyeth to take fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine off of the market on September 15, 1997, and the FDA to recommend simultaneously that people stop taking the drugs.
Numerous individuals or by their families filed lawsuits alleging use of fenfluramine or dexfenfluramine in fen-phen caused them to suffer Valvular Heart Disease (“VHD”) and/or primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH).
Eventually, a Nationwide Class Action Settlement Agreement with American Home Products (Wyeth) was approved for payments to individuals or families of patients who suffered VHD.
The Nationwide Class Action Settlement Agreement explicitly did not settle cases of fen-phen users who suffered from PPH related to Wyeth drugs, fenfluramine or dexfenfluramine. These cases were treated individually, separately and not as a part of the class settlement. Thus, those injured by fen-phen due to PPH must individually file their cases against the drug manufacturers.
The fen-phen diet pill injury attorneys at Bubalo Goode Sales & Cronen have continued to pursue cases on behalf of clients who suffer from PPH related to fen-phen and/or the families of these individuals. For instance, our legal work led to a $3 million verdict for a New Jersey fen-phen PPH victim. The jury found that the defendant Wyeth, “intentionally concealed from the FDA knowledge of the harmful effects,” of its drugs. View Stribling verdict.
Similarly, in early 2009, Mr. Bubalo was trial counsel in Kohler v. Wyeth, Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, Central Civil West, Diet Drug Case No. DD 004290. The trial sought damages for a young lawyer who had taken Wyeth’s defective drugs, causing her to suffer from this progressive and eventually fatal disease, PPH. The trial was broadcast streaming live on the web via www.courtroomview.com, between 3/4/09 to 4/22/09. A mutual resolution of the case was reached by the parties and recorded under seal by Judge Mohr shortly after the start of Defendant Wyeth’s proof. Although we always attempt to resolve our cases successfully with the need for a trial, Bubalo law is one of the few firms in the country to have successfully prosecuted such cases to completion in court before a jury.
If you or a family member of yours has contracted primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH) after using the “fen-phen” or “dexfen” diet therapy (fenfluramine/Pondimin or dexfenfluramine/Redux and phentermine), contact Bubalo Goode Sales & Cronen PLC for legal assistance. Our pharmaceutical injury attorneys can help you obtain compensation you deserve for the losses you have suffered.
Bubalo Goode Sales & Cronen fen-phen diet pill injury lawyers have helped other victims of these dangerous medications, and can protect your rights, too. You must you act promptly; there are statutory time limits on personal injury and wrongful death claims.
Contact Bubalo law today at 866-870-2489 for you free, no-obligation initial consultation. Based in in Kentucky, Louisville and Lexinton, as well as Boston Massachusetts, we accept PPH nationwide.