Drug Defect Results

In Re Diet Drugs Litigation, in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding No. 4032

The Plaintiffs, in this case, were two women who were prescribed Fen-Phen in the late 1990’s.  Fen-Phen is the abbreviation for a combination of drugs (Fenfluramine and Phentermine) that were marketed by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (later purchased by Pfizer) under the trade names Pondimin (“fenfluramine”) and Redux (“dexfenfluramine”).

Both Plaintiffs were diagnosed with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH), also known as Primary Pulmonary Hypertension.  PAH is a relatively rare disease; no more than a few hundred cases per year are diagnosed in the United States.  There are a number of causes of PAH, including sleep apnea, connective tissue disease, genetic disorders, and diet drugs.   

Fen-Phen is one of the main causes of PAH and the Fen-Phen recall was one of the worst prescription drug disasters in U.S. history.  Fen-Phen was wildly popular in the mid-nineties as a weight loss drug.  Literally millions of women took Pondimin and Redux between 1994 and 1997. 

During this same time period, health departments all over the world began noticing an increase in the incidence of PAH in women who used fenfluramine.  In 1994, the preliminary results of the International Primary Pulmonary Hypertension study (“IPPH Study”) entitled “Appetite Suppressants and the Risk of Primary Pulmonary Hypertension” was released and confirmed the association between fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine, and pulmonary hypertension and primary pulmonary hypertension.  The IPPH Study concluded that fenfluramine-based anorexigenics, such as fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine, increased the risk of PPH by a multiple of more than 23 times. 

Wyeth continued to promote Pondimin after learning of the extreme danger associated with it.  Wyeth continued to promote Pondimin knowing the drug had no beneficial use.  The Pondimin labeling failed to alert prescribing physicians and patients of the actual risks of PH and/or PPH,  but Wyeth knew of that danger and that risk.  Pondimin and Redux were eventually removed from the market because the dangers of the drugs outweighed any potential benefit.

The Plaintiffs, represented by Derek Merman, sued Pfizer in California.  After several years of protracted litigation, Mr. Merman secured settlements for the Plaintiffs and their surviving loved ones. 

Result:  Confidential Settlement for Plaintiff