Primary Pulmonary Hypertension
Fen Phen, Redux and Pondimin
Fen Phen is a type of anti-obesity medication that has been taken off the market as a result of its link to valvular heart disease and PPH. Fen Phen consists of fenfluramine and phentermine. Redux is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor that was removed from the market at the request of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Pondimin is an anti-obesity drug, with ingredients closely associated with Fen Phen. Pondimin manipulates the central nervous system to increase serotonin production in the body to send signals to the brain that the stomach is full. The drug was removed from the market in 1997.
All three drugs have been proven to produce heart valve defects and Primary Pulmonary Hypertension (PPH). A non-invasive ultrasound examination called an echocardiograph can detect defective heart valves. People who have developed these conditions after taking diet drugs may be eligible for compensation. In the United States there are between 500 and 1,000 new cases of PPH diagnosed each year. In 1999, American Home Products Corporation (maker of Fen Phen) paid a $3.75 billion settlement to thousands of users of the product who contracted some type of heart disease. The total cost of liability associated with Fen Phen is expected to exceed $14 billion.
Primary Pulmonary Hypertension is one form of pulmonary hypertension that is caused by changes in the cells lining the arteries in human lungs. PPH causes the walls of the arteries to tighten and blood clots to form. It is a rare disease of the lungs that eventually causes the blood vessels in the lungs to narrow. As the narrowing worsens over time, it can result in high blood pressure exceeding 25 mmHG in the blood vessels of the pulmonary artery. PPH has also been referred to as “unexplained pulmonary hypertension,” because there is no primary heart or lung disease causing the high blood pressure.
The symptoms of PPH may be so slow to develop that it’s very possible for people to have PPH for years without knowing it. The symptoms drive which treatments are used for PPH. Several medications are available as well. Surgery and lifestyle changes are also possible treatments of PPH. Common symptoms of PPH include: fatigue, racing heartbeat, and chest pain. As PPH worsens in a person, symptoms become more severe and can include: lightheadedness or shortness of breath after completing routine activities, fainting, swelling in legs and ankles, and bluish lips and skin.
Since PPH can be very difficult to detect, a doctor will often recommend one or several tests that will help rule out other disorders. PPH can be diagnosed by your doctor based on your medical and family history, a physical exam, and results from tests and procedures. Tests can include: ultrasound of the heart, chest x-ray, EKG, heart catheterization, pulmonary function test, overnight oximetry, lung ventilation/perfusion scan, exercise testing, and blood tests (to rule out other diseases).
While there is no known cure for Primary Pulmonary Hypertension, treatment can effectively slow down the advancement of the disease depending on its severity at the time it is detected. Diagnosing PPH at an early stage makes it easier to control. Treatment can range from lifestyle changes to surgical procedures.
PPH can also be treated with medications. Commonly prescribed medications used to relieve the symptoms of PPH include diuretics, blood-thinning medicines, and digoxin. The diuretics act as a water pill and can reduce fluid buildup in the body, especially the swelling in ankles and feet often associated with PPH. The blood-thinning medicines help prevent blood clots entirely, or at least from getting larger. Digoxin helps the heart pump more blood and beat stronger.
PPH usually develops in people between the ages of 20-60 years old, but can occur in someone at any age. Women are 2 to 3 times more likely to have PPH than men. People diagnosed with PPH after age 40 and without heart failure tend to survive longer than others with PPH. The severity of a person’s PPH is measured by doctors on a scale from Class I to Class IV. Class I requires a diagnosed patient to have no limitations on his or her daily tasks and activities, up through Class IV, which means a person diagnosed with PPH is unable to perform any physical activity whatsoever.
PPH has gained a significant degree of spotlight in the news as it has been linked to ‘90s diet drugs. It has now been confirmed that Fen Phen, Redux, and Pondimin are three main diet drugs that cause can cause PPH in users up to 10 to 20 years after their consumption.
The attorneys at Sheff Law have the resources, experience, and national reputation to investigate injuries and deaths resulting from primary pulmonary hypertension. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of primary pulmonary hypertension or another defective drug, please don’t hesitate to contact an attorney at Sheff Law today by filling out a free form, or call at (888) 423-4477 or 617-227-7000.
February 23rd, 2016 | Posted in Blog