One reason that the lawsuits are still in the news is that it can take a long time for symptoms of PPH to develop. Patients could reportedly take the drug for a very short time - as short as a month - and develop PPH years after taking the weight loss pill. According to some experts, PPH may not even arise until 15 years after the patient used fen-phen.
Pfizer has attempted to have fen-phen claims thrown out of court. In August 2012, the company asked a judge to dismiss lawsuits alleging fen-phen caused PPH, arguing there was no scientific evidence to support the claims.
But a judge refused to dismiss the claims, rejecting Pfizer’s argument. In his ruling, the judge found that there is reliable scientific evidence to back up the plaintiffs’ claims. Lawsuits filed against Wyeth (maker of fen-phen and now subsidiary of Pfizer) alleged the company hid the risks of its diet drug in an attempt to increase profits.
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Despite allowing the lawsuit to continue, the judge noted that it would be up to a jury to determine if the plaintiffs’ use of fen-phen caused her health problems.
Bloomberg (8/23/12) reports there were more than six million prescriptions written for fen-phen before it was pulled from the market in 1997. It was pulled from the market due to concerns about serious, life-threatening side effects.
The lawsuits are In re Diet Drugs Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 1203 and Brown v. American Home Products Corp., 2:99-cv-20593, US District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania.