Primary Pulmonary Hypertension and Diet Drugs

Primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH) has recently been linked with the use of certain diet drugs, some of which include Fen Phen, Pondimin (fenfluramine) and Redux (dexfenfluramine). Studies have shown that the use of diet drugs from the fenfluramine family increase the likelihood of PPH development by as much as 28 times.

Primary pulmonary hypertension is a serious, albeit rare, type of lung condition that is characterized by a dangerously elevated blood pressure in the pulmonary artery (over 25 mmHg). The pulmonary artery is the major blood vessel through which oxygen-poor blood is transported from the right ventricle of the heart to the lungs where it is oxygenized; carbon dioxide and other waste materials are removed and released via exhalation.

Fenfluramine and Dexfenfluramine

Fenfluramine was introduced to the U.S. market in 1973 as a type of appetite suppressant (anorexic). Also known as Pondimin, fenfluramine was developed to increase levels of neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. The increase results in the depression of the central nervous system, allowing for the regulation of a patient’s mood and appetite. The end result of treatment with fenfluramine is a patient’s feeling of fullness, generating a loss of appetite.

Dexfenfluramine, marketed under the brand name of Redux, is a type of appetite suppressant that is a slightly different formulation of fenfluramine. Like fenfluramine, dexfenfluramine increases the levels of neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain with the goal of depressing the central nervous system, resulting in a patient’s loss of appetite. Fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine were sold individually for years prior to American Home Health Products’ introduction of Fen Phen in 1990.

Fen Phen

Fen Phen is a combination drug that was introduced in 1990 as an anti-obesity or weight-suppressant drug. Fen Phen was recalled from the market by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1997 because of data that suggested a link between use of fenfluramine based drugs and primary pulmonary hypertension, heart valve defects and heart failure. The data suggested that patients who used the appetite suppressants were much more likely to develop primary pulmonary hypertension; this is particularly true for those who used the drugs for more than three months.

Fen Phen was produced by combining either fenfluramine or dexfenfluramine with phentermine. Phentermine is a type of sympathomimetic drug in that it mimics the effects of adrenaline. Like fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine, phentermine also works on the neurotransmitters of the brain to suppress a patient’s appetite; however, unlike fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine, phentermine is a stimulant.

Although Fen Phen, fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine have been recalled, phentermine remains in use as an anti-obesity drug.

Fen Phen Liabilities – PPH Lawsuits

Drug manufacturers are responsible for ensuring the safety and efficacy of their products before marketing them for public consumption. Failure to do so is considered negligent and grounds for pharmaceutical litigation. The Pensacola personal injury attorneys of Aylstock, Witkin Kreis & Overholtz handle national litigation across the United States for victims injured by defective pharmaceuticals and medical devices. They have successfully represented and obtained substantial compensation for a number of patients who have been harmed by drugs. Contact AWKO law today at (844) 794-7402 to get more information about your rights as a Fen Phen injury victim.