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Life-Threatening Fen Phen Side Effects Include Heart Failure and Death

From Research At Mayo Clinic The Use Of Fen Phen Increased Risk Of PPH

For over a decade, personal injury lawyers have been filing cases against Wyeth (formerly American Home Products) for compensation of monetary losses due to patients suffering from Primary Pulmonary Hypertension (PPH) and Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH), the more serious of a range of potential Fen Phen side effects. 

On September 15, 1997, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a mandatory recall of the diet drug when it emerged during a study at the Mayo Clinic that 24 women that received fenfluramine-phentermine therapy demonstrated unusual valvular morphology. Eight of the women developed forms of pulmonary hypertension. This raised concerns that fenfluramine-phentermine directly led to valvular heart disease, thus establishing the link.

Fenfluramine and Phentermine were individually approved by the FDA as a prescribed appetite suppressant. However, when the drugs are used in combination, they pose a considerable health threat. The combination was never approved and yet, before the drug was recalled, over 6 million American had taken one drug or the other. In 1996, over 18 million took them together. When the connection surfaced, thousands of lawsuits ensued.

There is no cure for PPH. It is a rare lung disease in which blood pressure in the pulmonary artery rises to dangerous levels. Normal pulmonary artery pressure is considered to be 14 mm Hg at rest. However, patients with PPH average pulmonary artery blood pressure of greater than 25 mm Hg at rest and more than 30 mm Hg when engaged in exercise. This restricts the blood flowing through the vessels and puts a strain on the right ventricle, forcing it to work harder to pump enough blood through the lungs.

The cause of pulmonary hypertension has yet to be established. The rarity of the disease has so far made it a challenge to learn about (approximately one to two cases appear per million people). A genetic link has been noted, and some scientists believe that people who develop PPH have blood vessels that are particularly sensitive to factors that trigger the disease. Still, the diet product in question has accounted for a 30% increase.

There are several illnesses that appear similar to PPH. Doctors must first rule out PAH, secondary pulmonary hypertension (which means the cause is known), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) before they can diagnose. This makes it very difficult to identify. Confusion can come from the symptoms of PAH, which include:

• Shortness of breath
• Dizziness
• Feeling tired
• Fainting
• Palpitations or abnormal heartbeat
• Dry cough
• Chest pain
• Swollen ankles or legs

Still, on average, 500 to 1,000 new cases are confirmed each year in the United States, the majority of which occur in women between the ages of 20 and 40. Early detection is a serious concern because of the chronic and often fatal nature of the disorder. Appropriate medical treatment is imperative. The symptoms to be aware of are:

• Progressive shortness of breath (especially with activity)
• Hyperventilation (breathing harder and faster)
• Fatigue (tiring easily)
• Progressive weakness
• Fainting spells
• Lightheadedness or dizziness
• Coughing up blood
• Progressive cyanosis (blue tinge to lips hands and feet)

People who have taken the drug combination over a decade ago can still be suffering from symptoms due the latent potential of the symptoms. If you feel you have received a PPH injury, and would like further information, contact a qualified legal professional. 

Fen Phen PPH Lawsuits Attorneys

Ferrer, Poirot & Wansbrough Attorneys at Law
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