The Diet Drug that Did More Harm Than Good
The drug combination fen-phen was in fact two separate pills prescribed
by physicians for weight reduction. The "fen" stands for
"fenfluramine," and the "phen" stands for "phentermine."
The drug Redux ("dexfenfluramine") was a similar weight
reduction or diet pill, which was manufactured years after the other
two drugs were placed on the market. Phentermine, known as "legalized
speed," became popular in the early 1970's with movie stars
in their attempt to lose weight.
Fenfluramine, which was sold under the trademark name Pondimin,
was manufactured by A.H. Robins Company, a division of American
Home Products. Phentermine was and continues to be manufactured
by several different
companies, and Redux was manufactured by Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories.
At the time that American Home Products was manufacturing and selling
fenfluramine, it was one of the largest pharmaceutical companies
in the United States.
did it go off the market?
The drug combination fen-phen and the single diet drug Redux was
withdrawn from the United States market in September 1997, after
a study was released by the famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota,
indicating a connection to the use of the drug and a serious heart
condition known as valvular regurgitation, or leaky heart valves,
any of the drugs still being utilized?
Although the use of the combination drug fen-phen and Redux is no
longer allowed, the diet drug phentermine is still on the market,
and is being widely prescribed to date. There is no direct evidence
to indicate that the use of phentermine alone caused valvular regurgitation,
and there seems to be no end to the amount of other diet drugs that
are placed in the market daily, without the side effects associated
with the deadly combination of fen-phen or the singular use of Redux.
was it taken off the market?
As indicated above, after a medical study was released by the Mayo
Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, in 1997, the United States Food
and Drug Administration eventually informed American Home Products
that there were serious problems associated with the use of fen-phen
as far as weight loss was concerned. The FDA would have forced a
recall had the manufacturer not "voluntarily" agreed to
remove it from the market.
harm did it do?
As indicated above, fen-phen/Redux caused serious valvular regurgitation,
or leaky heart valves, which in some cases lead to death. In addition,
a serious heart-lung disease known as primary pulmonary hypertension
("PPH") was also caused by the use of the combination
drug, as well as the singular use of Redux. PPH is a devastating
heart and lung disease, ultimately requiring individuals to go on
a prosectycycline pump imbedded in the body to deliver medications
to keep blood vessels open so that blood can get to the heart and
lungs. In the most serious of cases, individuals were required to
be placed on a national heart-lung replacement list in the hopes
that they would survive long enough to obtain a heart-lung transplant
before death ensued.
kind of litigation took place?
A lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of Brooke County, West
Virginia, in 1997, asking that the Court certify a statewide class
action on behalf of all individuals who purchased these drugs in
West Virginia, for medical monitoring to monitor the effects that
these drugs caused, and a personal injury class, to recover damages
on behalf of those individuals who suffered severe and permanent
injuries as a result of the ingestion of this drug.
Circuit Court of Brooke County certified a statewide class for medical
monitoring, as well as a personal injury class. As a result of the
certification of the medical monitoring class, all individuals in
the state of West Virginia who desired a medical review to determine
the extent of harm, if any, that the diet drugs caused, received
the same at no cost to the individual. It was the first medical
monitoring class in the entire country involving the diet drugs
to be successfully pursued and completed. In fact, the nationwide
class action involving fen-phen/Redux is still awaiting the completion
of the medical monitoring program and the payment of all claims
for personal injury.
individuals who were monitored as a result of their purchase and
ingestion of the drugs in the West Virginia litigation, and who
had documented valvular heart disease and/or PPH, have settled their
claims. The fen-phen class action/mass tort litigation in West Virginia
was the largest and most successful class action/mass tort for medical
monitoring and personal injury in the history of the state of West
did Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler, P.L.L.C., do in
the fen-phen/Redux diet drug litigation?
We were a group of five law firms who joined together for the common
benefit of our diet drug clients. Each firm was responsible for
its own clients. The purpose of the joint prosecution alliance was
to share the work and expenses of those aspects of the litigation
which were common to all diet drug cases. This in fact spread the
tremendous cost of the litigation on the plaintiff's side over all
of the cases, and by doing so, reduced expenses in each individual's
firm also participated with other attorneys from other states to
jointly share in the litigation/discovery process, taking of depositions,
and the prosecution of the individual state's claims to a successful
I have a case?
All litigation in the state of West Virginia is now over. All individuals
who purchased and/or ingested the diet drugs in the state of West
Virginia who were involved in the West Virginia class action/mass
tort have been medically monitored and have settled their personal
injury claims. Those in West Virginia who chose to stay with the
national MDL must pursue their claims in that pending litigation.
Although the litigation is over in West Virginia, we are happy to
answer any questions you may still have. Contact
us or call us toll-free at 1-800-822-5667.