DIET DRUGS "Fen-Phen" - Pondimin, Redux

Many dieting Americans turned to medication in the 1990s to help them lose weight. Among the most popular was a combination of drugs that went by the nickname of "fen-phen," for fenfluramine (brand names Pondimin, Redux) and phentermine. The fen-phen diet duo showed good results, so much so that sales of these drugs topped a reported $5.6 billion by 1994.

But then a problem arose, a serious problem. In July 1997, researchers at the Mayo Clinic reported that women who had taken fen-phen developed heart valve dysfunction. Some 30 percent of fen-phen users tested suffered from the rare ailment. Reports surfaced also linking fen-phen to primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH), a potentially fatal disease.

On Sept. 15, 1997, two months after the Mayo Clinic report, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration removed Pondimin and Redux from the market. (Phentermine was not recalled and is still available.)

There have been a number of fen-phen lawsuits, with the first case to reach a verdict ending in a $23.4 million award for a Texas woman. Many lawsuits followed, and in 1999 the manufacturer of Pondimin and Redux, American Home Products Corp., agreed to a $3.75 billion settlement to pay patient claims. The funds are targeted for refunds as well as testing and compensation to people who suffered injuries as a result of taking Pondimin and Redux.

As many as six million people are estimated to have used fen-phen. The risk of heart valve damage from using fen-phen is considered greater among those who used it longer, particularly if it was taken for more than three months.

Symptoms of heart valve problems may not manifest until two to five years after taking the drug. They include shortness of breath, swelling of extremities, chest pain, palpitations, increased blood pressure, irregular heart beat, heart murmur, fatigue, fainting and dizziness.

Symptoms of PPH, caused by a narrowing of the blood vessel that supplies blood to the lungs, include shortness of breath, chest pain, weakness, fatigue and fainting.

If you or someone you know used Pondimin or Redux and suffered heart valve dysfunction or PPH, click here to contact an experienced Diet Drug Claims Attorney. The attorneys at Kline & Specter represent people injured by diet drugs and other pharmaceuticals in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and across the US.