September 5, 2012 — The long-term side effects of Fen Phen may not be diagnosed for 10 or 20 years after discontinuing the diet pills.
There are two Fen Phen lawsuits currently pending against Wyeth Pharmaceuticals on behalf of two women who died of the long-term side effects of Fen Phen.
One lawsuit was filed on behalf of Jamie Cheek, who was diagnosed with PPH nine years after using Fen Phen. The second lawsuit was filed on behalf of Valerie Farmer, who was diagnosed with PPH eleven years after using Fen Phen.
Attorneys for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals argued that the cases should be thrown out because there was not enough evidence that Fen Phen could cause latent PPH. A federal judge disagreed, and the cases will move forward.
Studies indicate that the long-term side effects of Fen Phen may not appear for 10 or 20 years after discontinuing the diet pills. Many experts have warned that PPH can take years to develop because it is a progressive disease. Damage to blood vessels in the lungs cause progressive enlargement of the heart muscle and/or damage to valves in the heart. This condition is life-threatening and often deadly.
Because the injuries associated with Fen Phen are so serious, many lawsuits have settled for tens of millions of dollars. One state-court jury in Beaumont, Texas ordered Wyeth to pay more than $1 billion to the family of Cynthia Cappel-Coffey, who used Pondimin for five months in 1997. Coffey was diagnosed with PPH in 2002 and died the next year. The court awarded her family $113 million in compensatory damages and $900 million in punitive damages.
Fen Phen is a diet pill that combines fenfluramine and phentermine. It was created and sold by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and reached peak popularity in the 1990s. Approximately 6 million prescriptions were written for Fen Phen. Within a few years, doctors started noticing that people who were taking the pills had life-threatening heart damage. The FDA and Wyeth recalled Fen Phen in 1997. The drug company has reserved $21.1 billion to settle Fen Phen lawsuits.