Although it has been almost ten years since Fen-Phen and Redux were recalled, lawsuits against the diet drugs are mounting as victims are just now being diagnosed with PPH (Primary Pulmonary Hypertension).
Typically, PPH can take up to ten years to diagnose and the symptoms can be misleading, especially because the disease is slow to manifest. "I didn't realize that my symptoms were related to Redux until last month when I was diagnosed with PPH," says Dubois. "I have several ongoing problems attributed to my weight problem but now I realize that PPH has exacerbated my situation because I have trouble breathing and can't exercise - so I gain more weight." A vicious cycle. Dubois can't even walk across her living room without getting out of breath; she was fired from her job because she could barely walk down the hallway. "I was tested for pulmonary function and it was found to be at 52 percent capacity - no wonder I have no energy or stamina."
As well, Dubois has a large, hard lump in her abdomen which was recently diagnosed as edema - water retention that causes swelling. "It got to the point where it was crowding my organs and I was very uncomfortable. My doctor told me edema is caused by PPH so all these problems are mounting." Dubois says she has no idea of her prognosis or course of treatment. But she does know that PPH is a gradual disease and she isn't likely to get better.
"I hope there will be a treatment for me - is PPH going to be a lifelong chronic condition? I just don't know. I'm not going to freak out about it, I have had many medical issues in the past, but now I don't know what options are going to be available for me.
"As for the drug company, I think they had good intentions but because of this gradual disease, how could they know the harm they would cause?" says Dubois. She's right; it certainly didn't test Redux or Fen-Phen for 10 years. "When I was diagnosed with PPH I did some research on the Internet and saw that it could be caused by Redux and Fen-Phen. 'Well, waddya know!' I said. For all these years I thought I had escaped the side effects. Turns out that I didn't."
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Dubois says that having her information will strengthen the case against Wyeth. (She used to work in a class action law firm.) "I know that a lot more people will come forward who are now being diagnosed with PPH, 10 years after the recall."
Although Redux manufacturer Wyeth reached a nationwide settlement with patients who suffered valvular heart disease from taking the drug (determined by an echocardiogram, a special procedure that can test the functioning of heart valves), people who have been diagnosed with PPH are not affected by this settlement.
To date, several lawsuits have been filed against Wyeth, alleging that the use of Fen-Phen resulted in PPH.