Our Work in the Fen-Phen Litigation
The get-thin-quick craze of the 1990s became a boon for pharmaceutical firms who took advantage of a nation committed to losing weight.
Sadly, those companies produced and marketed products that left tens of thousands in dire health. One of those products was a potentially deadly cocktail produced by American Home Products called Fen-Phen.
Baron & Budd was one of the firms that aggressively pursued justice for the victims, who after taking the drug, were left with heart disease and pulmonary hypertension. Baron & Budd attorneys helped oversee a significant settlement to help compensate Fen-Phen victims.
The Food and Drug Administration asked AHP to take the product off the shelves in 1997. But by that time, the drugs had already done permanent health damage to many of the six million who had taken them.
Fen-Phen was a combination of drugs called fenfluramine and phentermine. By itself, fenfluramine releases extra amounts of serotonin in the body, a chemical that tricks the brain into thinking that the stomach is full. Negative side effects include altered moods and drowsiness.
A pharmacologist later decided to mix phentermine to counter-balance fenfluramine’s side effects. The result was an astounding diet drug that could help patients shed more than 30 pounds, according to a preliminary study. Doctors who learned about the drug began prescribing it to patients to ward off obesity despite the fact that the FDA never approved it.
Several years after the drug’s heralded debut, a 1996 Mayo Clinic study revealed that many patients who had been taking Fen-Phen developed hypertension and heart abnormalities. Within a month, the FDA asked AHP to take the product off the shelves, which they did voluntarily.
However, more than six million people had already taken the drug and many had developed serious, irreversible heart problems.