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The Fen Phen PPH Connection: Serious Diet Drug Side Effects

Research At Mayo Clinic Establish Link Between Fen Phen And PPH

For over a decade, personal injury lawyers have been filing cases against Wyeth (formerly American Home Products) on behalf of patients suffering from Primary Pulmonary Hypertension who have discovered the devastating Fen Phen PPH connection.

On September 15th 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 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 prescription drugs for appetite suppression. However, when used in combination, they pose a considerable health threat. The combination was never approved and yet, before the product was recalled, over 6 million American had taken one or the other. In 1996, over 18 million took them together, and since then, thousands of lawsuits have ensued.

There is no cure for this terrible disorder. 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 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 the condition has yet to be established. The rarity of the disease has so far made it a challenge to identify (approximately one to two cases appear per million people). A genetic link has been noted, and some scientists believe that people who develop it have blood vessels that are particularly sensitive to factors that trigger the disease. Still, the diet drug accounts for a 30% increase.

There are several illnesses that appear similar, including Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH), which is unexplained hypertension. 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 PPH. This makes it very difficult to identify. On average, 500 to 1,000 new cases are confirmed each year in the U.S., 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. 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)

For people who, as long as a decade ago, took Fen Phen, Pulmonary Hypertension can still be diagnosed due the latent potential of the symptoms. If you would like further information about these matters, contact a qualified legal professional.   

Fen Phen PPH Lawsuits Attorneys

Ferrer, Poirot & Wansbrough Attorneys at Law
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