"I think that most people who settled years ago for a negligible amount would also be surprised to know that they can re-open their claim. A lot of people my age don’t have computers and don’t know what is going on.”
There are two Fen-phen “camps”: those consumers with minor injuries who originally settled with Fen-Phen drug manufacturers and those who had no Fen-Phen side effects and did not join a Fen-Phen lawsuit. Now a judge has ruled that both camps may be eligible to file a claim.
“When the Fen-phen lawsuits settled, people thought the injury had a time limit but over the course of time injuries continue to occur,” says attorney Ben Stewart. “If you originally settled with a minor injury, and have now developed a serious condition, you can file a claim. Or you didn’t have an injury and didn’t settle, now you can come back and file a claim.”
Two recent lawsuits argued that Fen-phen consumers developed PPH several years after using the diet pill. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (the company that invented the drug) attorneys argued that the cases should be thrown out because the plaintiffs had no evidence that Fen-phen could cause PPH more than a decade after the pills were discontinued. The judge disagreed. In September 2012, Judge Bartle ruled that Fen-phen lawsuits involving latent Primary Pulmonary Hypertension (PPH) will be allowed to proceed.
Judge Bartle determined that enough scientific evidence supported the latent PPH argument, which is extremely good news for the plaintiffs and countless other Fen-phen users who are now suffering from life-threatening PPH, a severe lung disease that causes progressive lung and heart damage, and often leads to heart failure. There is no cure for PPH.
Even if you took Fen-phen back in 1997, like Patricia and her husband did, and are just now developing symptoms of PPH, you may be eligible to file a Fen-phen lawsuit. Patricia is filing a Fen-phen claim on behalf of her deceased husband and herself. They both took the Fen-phen diet pill for about two years.
“My husband, Delbert, had open heart surgery in 2001 and had six bypasses and now I too have heart disease,” says Patricia. “Neither of us had any signs of heart disease before taking the drug so I really think that Fen-phen contributed to his death, and now I am facing Fen-phen injuries.”
Patricia, who had a stent implanted several years ago and is now on heart meds, doesn’t remember getting any information about the side effects or risks when they were prescribed the drug to lose weight.
“We both started having heart palpitations so we stopped taking Fen-phen on our own because we thought it wasn’t good for us—our doctor didn’t advise us to stop taking it,” Patricia adds. “I remember that it took us about three months for our hearts to stop racing, to get it out of our system. We thought we were out of the woods but that wasn’t to be.
"Delbert began to have chest pains and we got him to a cardiologist. They found the blockages and said he needed surgery immediately. It was a shock to both of us. At that time we never made the connection with heart disease and Fen-phen--you just accept what the doctor tells you and you just carry on.
"We had gotten a letter in 2002 from “Pounds Away”, a weight loss clinic where a doctor prescribed the Fen-phen but we ignored the letter because we weren’t having any problems back then.
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"There are days when my heart races. I think that I would have had a heart attack and probably wouldn’t be here either if not for taking heart meds and being under the care of a cardiologist. I take care of myself and watch what I eat, I exercise daily: I walk and use the treadmill and if I get the chance, sit-ups and other exercises. I never drink sodas and limit coffee to two cups a day. I don’t eat any red meat and don’t drink. I’m feeling pretty good but I am still dealing with my husband’s death—I really believe he would be here today if not for Fen-Phen.”