Injury from Defective Diet Drugs

By: Attorney Arthur Penn
If you took the diet drugs REDUX or PONDIMEN alone or in combination with another diet drug (including the popular FEN-PHEN combination), you may have sustained injury to your heart valves and not even know it. These drugs have been indicated as a potential cause of valvular regurgitation - a condition in which the normal direction of the blood flow in and from the heart is disturbed and some blood leaks backward in the wrong direction. This condition may be mild or serious. There may be no symptoms of the problem, or you may experience symptoms like shortness of breath, swelling in the legs or feet, palpable heartbeats, chest pain or fatigue.

Your doctor is the best person to advise you about your medical condition and a check-up is recommended for anyone who took these medications. Your doctor will listen to your heart to determine if a murmur can be detected. Your doctor will also advise you if an echocardiogram is recommended. This is the only non-invasive test which can give an accurate picture of your heart valves.

ECHOCARDIOGRAM An "ECHO" is an ultrasound test of the heart. It is non-invasive (nothing is put into the patient) and not dangerous. It uses sound waves to detect the flow of blood in the heart.

THE DRUGS Fenfluramine (Pondimin) has been sold in the United States since 1973. It was approved by the FDA for short-term use (a few weeks) as a treatment for obesity in conjunction with appropriate diet and exercise under the direction of a physician. A medical study in the early 1990s of the effectiveness of combining fenfluramine with another drug, phentermine, reported safe and successful weight loss when used for longer than 3 months. The combination was never approved by the FDA. However, encouraged by the favorable reports, many doctors began to prescribe the Fen-Phen combination and for longer periods. Dexfenfluramine (REDUX) was approved by the FDA in 1996 for use less than one year in the management of obesity.

OTHER SYMPTOMS and INJURIES The FDA approved labeling for the drugs did warn about the potential for a small number of people to develop a rare lung disease called primary pulmonary hypertension, however, the heart valve dangers were unknown and thus not listed in the warnings.

Other symptoms which have been frequently reported by patients are cognitive changes such as memory loss and confusion, and seizures. These conditions are being studied in relation to diet drug use.

LEGAL IMPLICATIONS If you have been injured by using PONDIMIN or REDUX, you may have a legal claim against the doctor who prescribed the drug for you and/or the manufacturer of the drug. A doctor may be liable for malpractice if the drug was prescribed for the wrong purpose, dose or time or proper monitoring was not given. The manufacturer may be found to be liable for injuries caused by their drugs if they did not follow safe product regulations.

The attorneys at PELLETTIERI, RABSTEIN AND ALTMAN are working with attorneys across the nation to protect the legal rights of individuals who took the diet drugs. We are representing a large number of clients who have been injured or are monitoring their medical condition with their physicians. Arthur Penn is heading our team of attorneys in the investigation of medical research and legal decisions relating to individual claims. He is ready to discuss any questions or concerns you have.

WHAT TO DO Get a check-up. Consult with your physician whether an echocardiogram is recommended for you. Call PELLETTIERI, RABSTEIN AND ALTMAN about your legal rights.

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