September 17, 2001-AHP still pursued by Fen-Phen specter
Having settled numerous lawsuits in the USA regarding the diet drugs Pondimin (fenfluramine) and Redux (dexfenfluramine; Marketletters passim), any hopes American Home Products may have had that the Fen-Phen specter had gone away completely have been banished. Nearly four years after the withdrawal of the drugs from the market, lawyers at have filed two wrongful death complaints, which they claim "could signal a renewed wave of lawsuits against AHP just as the pharmaceutical company coaxes investors back with predictions that its legal troubles [over Fen-Phen] are coming to an end."
More than $ 11 billion has been distributed to victims of the drug or their families, but attorneys believe that the figure could easily double as more former users of the diet drug combination are diagnosed with either heart valve damage or primary pulmonary hypertension. According to attorneys, AHP wants to sweep the issue under the carpet, "the devastation caused by this drug is about to reach epidemic levels as the effects of heart and lung damage caused by Fen-Phen become apparent to hundreds of thousands of former patients." Lawyers also argue that "the company must be held responsible for marketing a drug they knew could hurt and even kill people." Citing a study from the Boston University School of Medicine, the lawyers claim that almost 2 million former users of the drug have heart valve damage and, so far, fewer than 500,000 of them have received compensation from lawsuits.
AHP's most recent comment on the case came in August 2001, when the US Court of Appeals affirmed a federal trial court's approval of the company's "nationwide settlement" of claims involving the diet drugs. Once the court rejected challenges to the settlement, Robert Essner, AHP's chief executive, said: "this is an important step in putting this matter behind us."
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