Mar. 31, 2005 – Pharmaceutical company Wyeth will have to pay $5.5 million in damages to two plaintiffs as lawsuits involving withdrawn diet drug Pondimin continue to make their way into and through the courts. A jury in Philadelphia awarded $5 million in damages to Isabelle Vega and $500,000 to Camille Olsen, finding that Wyethâ€™s product had caused damage to the heart valves of both plaintiffs.
The same day saw two other cases decided in favor of Wyeth.
In 1997, at the FDAâ€™s urging, Wyeth withdrew two drugs -- Pondomin and Redux, or fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine, respectively -- off of the market. The FDA had separately approved them in 1959 and 1973 as appetite suppressants available on prescription for the "short termâ€¦ management of obesity." However, a combination of either drug with another drug, phentermine, in a cocktail known as "fen-phen," was later made available for unapproved, "off-label" use. Studies found fen-phen to cause dangerous heart valve irregularities.
Last month Wyeth announced it expects to pay up to $21 billion in legal fees and payouts from lawsuits brought by former fen-phen users. The company is still facing around 60,000 lawsuits related to the health effects of the drugs.