January 4, 2000-AHP: Drug maker sued for deaths
American Home Products (AHP) is involved in a federal product liability suit over deaths allegedly caused by its painkiller Duract, the Newark Star-Ledger reports. The lawsuit claims that the drug company was negligent and should be held accountable for the deaths and injuries of patients who took the drug. Duract, which entered the market in July, 1997, was a prescription-only narcotics alternative taken for short-term relief of serious pain. It was recalled by AHP's Wyeth-Ayerst division in June 1998. The lawsuit seeks damages on behalf of three people who died after allegedly taking Duract, and six patients who claim serious liver damage from the drug. Zoe Littlepage, the plaintiff's lawyer, said, "It's clear from Wyeth's own research and testing that this was a drug which showed its true colors even during development. Wyeth chose to downplay, and ignore, the writing on the wall and market the drug anyway." AHP and Wyeth-Ayerst officials have declined to comment. The FDA had approved the drug as short-term treatment for severe pain, but later warned that it could lead to fatal liver damage if used for more than 10 days. When Wyeth-Ayerst issued the recall, it sent letters to more than 600,000 doctors, instructing them to immediately cease prescribing the drug. This is the latest suit to hit AHP, which is still embroiled in litigation after the $4.83 billion national settlement involving the diet drug combination Fen-Phen.
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