Fen-Phen PPH Lawsuits Should Be Cut Off, Drug Maker Argues

Fifteen years have gone by since the diet drug Fen-Phen was removed from the market due to concerns about serious and potentially life-threatening health problems, including a risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPH). However, lawsuits continue to claim former users of the diet drug have developed injuries, and Pfizer is asking a federal judge to put an end to it. 

The company has paid out an estimated $21 billion in Fen-Phen settlements for problems caused by the controversial diet drug, but it continues to face claims by plaintiffs who allege that they developed PPH from Fen Phen years after taking it.

Pfizer has filed a motion with U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III, according to a report by Bloomberg News, indicating that Fen-Phen PPH lawsuits that allege plaintiffs developed the condition nine or more years after their last use of the medication should be dismissed due to a lack of evidence linking the medication to the fatal disease years later.

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Fen-Phen was a popular diet pill that was originally developed by American Home Products, which later became Wyeth and was subsequently absorbed by Pfizer. The medication was recalled in 1997, due to a risk of heart and lung problems, including cases of PPH, which is often fatal.

In most situations, state-based statutes of limitation require plaintiffs to bring any lawsuit within a few years after it is known or discoverable that a drug causes health problems. However, plaintiffs continue to file Fen-Phen lawsuits alleging that the signs of PPH did not occur until years after they stopped taking the diet pill.

Pfizer attorneys argue there is no scientific evidence that the late-onset cases of PPH were caused by Fen-Phen. Plaintiff attorneys disagree, saying that the fen-phen side effects had a latency period that could be as long as 15 years.

Judge Bartle is overseeing about 30 PPH Fen-Phen lawsuits in federal court in Philadelphia, and there are others that have been filed in state court in Pennsylvania, which Bloomberg reports Pfizer is also trying to get thrown out.


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