May 17, 2004 - Texas judge affirms $1 billion award in diet drug case
Texas District Court Judge Donald Floyd affirmed a jury's award of more than $1 billion in damages against drug maker Wyeth to the family of a woman who took Pondimin, part of the now-banned weight-loss combination fen-phen.
A jury in Beaumont, Texas, granted the award to the family of Cynthia Cappel-Coffey, who died in 2003, a year after she was diagnosed with primary pulmonary hypertension, a condition her attorneys said resulted from taking the drug.
Wyeth has vowed to appeal the verdict, saying the judge made numerous errors during the trial. The company also said it had provided adequate warnings about the heart risks associated with the drug and had complied with federal regulations.
Madison, N.J.-based Wyeth has set aside $16.6 billion to settle fen-phen cases since it pulled both drugs, Pondimin and Redux, off the market in 1997 amid mounting reports they had caused heart valve and lung damage in some of the roughly 5.8 million Americans who took them.