In the mid-1990s, a high number of overweight Americans were taking Fen-Phen with the promise of quick and effective weight loss. Fen-Phen contained the combination of two drugs called fenfluramine and phentermine. While one drug suppressed the appetite, the other drug prevented drowsiness. Patients quickly experienced dramatic weight loss and the drug was dubbed a “miracle pill”. The popularity of fen-phen was short lived, and scientific evidence surfaced showing a link between serious heart valve damage and a fatal lung condition called primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH). By then, millions of Americans had used Fen-Phen.

THE RISE & FALL OF FEN-PHEN

The story of fenfluramine diet pills (Fen-Phen, Redux, and Pondimin) began in the mid-1990s. In 1992, a study found that more than 1/3 of Americans were overweight, and people were looking for a quick and effective solution. The drug Isomeride was already popular in Europe, and contained fenfluramine, an “anoretic” drug that could make a person’s brain release serotonin, which made them feel full and satisfied. Isomeride and Pondimin (an older diet pill with fenfluramine), were not very popular because they made people feel drowsy. Fenfluramine also caused altered moods and memory loss. Then, a doctor decided to study whether the drowsy side effects of fenfluramine (“Fen”) could be fixed by combining it with another drug: Phentermine (“Phen”), a mild stimulant. Thus, Fen-Phen was born, and though it had not been approved by the FDA for weight-loss, doctors began prescribing it “off label” for quick weight loss. As the popularity of Fen-Phen began to explode, the drug-company pushed a second diet pill: Redux (dexfenfluramine). Though there was concern about the safety of Redux — including a study that linked derivatives of fenfluramine to Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) — the company continued to push Redux onto the U.S. marketplace. Despite the advice of doctors who found a link between fenfluramine and Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Redux in April 1996.

With FDA approval, the diet pill craze began. The company marketing Fen-Phen and Redux spent $52 million on a massive advertising campaign that included articles in popular magazines. In 1996, sales topped $300 million, and there were more than 18 million prescriptions for the medications. However, the wild success would be short-lived, and soon come crashing down. The FDA began receiving reports from doctors that they were treating a wave of people with unusual heart valve damage and Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) in patients taking Fen-Phen, Redux, or Pondimin. Even people who had only been taking the diet pills for a month showed signs of heart damage. On September 15, 1997, the FDA pulled Fen-Phen, Redux, Pondimin, and fenfluramine diet pills off the shelves and banned their use in the U.S.

INJURIES LINKED TO FEN-PHEN

  • PRIMARY PULMONRY HYPERTENSION (PPH)
  • PULMONARY ARTERIAL HYPERTENSION (PAH)
  • HEART VALVE DAMAGE
  • LEAKY HEART VALVE
  • IRREGULAR HEARTBEAT
  • HEART MURMUR
  • DAMAGE TO BLOOD VESSELS IN THE LUNGS
  • HEART FAILURE
  • DEATH

UNDERSTANDING PRIMARY PULMONARY HYPERTENSION (PPH)

Primary Pulmonary Hypertension (PPH) is a rare and often fatal disease that has no known cause and results in the progressive narrowing of the blood vessels of the lungs which as a result causes high blood pressure in these blood vessels and eventually leads to heart failure. The lungs contain millions of tiny blood vessels called capillaries. These capillaries are extremely small, just wide enough for blood cells to move through. The capillaries are lined with endothelial cells that prevent blood from leaking out of the vessel. The outside of the blood vessels are muscle type cells that expand and contract as blood moves through from the heart into the lungs. PPH causes the cell lining of the lung’s blood vessels to weaken and allow leakage. The leaking of blood out of the vessels causes the muscles that surround the blood vessels to constrict. This continuous constriction increases the pressure within the blood vessels and cuts off blood flow. The constriction gradually worsens, eventually increasing the pulmonary arterial pressure.

PRIMARY PULMONARY HYPERTENSION (PPH) SYMPTOMS

  • SHORTNESS OF BREATH FOLLOWING EXERTION
  • EXCESSIVE FATIGUE
  • CHEST PAIN
  • ANKLE SWELLING
  • FAINTING
  • BLUISH LIPS & SKIN

DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT INJURIES RELATED TO FEN-PHEN?

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with Primary Pulmonary Hypertension (PPH) due to the drug Fen-Phen, we encourage you to consult with our team as soon as possible. With our extensive knowledge and expertise, you can rest assured that should you choose to work with us, you will have legal representation that you can trust. All initial consultations are free, and we don’t charge any up-front fees for representation. We handle all fees on a contingency basis, meaning that unless we’re successful, you don’t have to pay us. Please contact Fulmer Sill at (405)510.0077 for a free consultation.