A U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel has voted to recommend approval for a new weight loss drug manufactured by Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. If approved, Lorqess (lorcaserin), will become one of the first diet pills to hit the market in the nearly 15 years since the once-popular fen phen was recalled.
Lorqess is currently one of three weight loss drugs under consideration by the FDA. Another drug, Vivus’ Qnexa, has had its approval decision delayed amid concerns that clinical trials have indicated an increased risk for heart problems as well as birth defects among women who use the drug while pregnant. Qnexa includes a combination of topiramate and phentermine, one half of the fen phen combination. Lorqess is designed to function similarly to fen phen by blocking appetite signals in the brain to encourage weight loss.
In clinical trials, lorcaserin helped people to lose up to 5 percent of the body weight compared to placebo drugs. The FDA has expressed concern over the possibility for heart valve damage in patients taking Lorqess and an advisory panel has recommended that all new weight loss drugs submitted for approval be subjected to extensive study to determine the risk for heart problems.
Fen phen, (fenfluramine and phentermine) was pulled from the market in 1997 after it was determined that patients using the drug were experiencing heart damage at alarmingly high rates. Prior to the recall, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that patients who used fen phen were up to 23 times more likely to develop a condition known as primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH). PPH, also known as pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), is a condition which causes increased blood pressure in the lungs. As the heart works harder to pump blood throughout the body, the heart muscle may become enlarged, potentially leading to congestive heart failure. If left untreated, PPH can potentially become a life-threatening condition.
Following the fen phen recall, thousands of lawsuits were filed against American Home Products, the company that manufactured the drug. American Home, which later changed its name to Wyeth and has since been acquired by Pfizer, has reportedly spent billions of dollars to resolve fen phen side effects lawsuit. While a significant number of lawsuits have been settled, it’s believed that new claims could still be filed as fen phen users continue to be diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. In some cases, it can take years for symptoms of PPH to develop.
While there is no cure for pulmonary hypertension, there are numerous ways to treat the condition, some of which can be costly. Patients who have been diagnosed with PPH after using fen phen may still be entitled to compensation for their medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. If you or a loved one has PPH that you believe was caused by fen phen, you need to speak to an experienced fen phen attorney as soon as possible to discuss your rights.
Nadrich & Cohen, LLP is investigating fen phen side effects claims in all 50 states. For more information on filing a fen phen lawsuit, call 1-800-718-4658 to begin your free initial case evaluation. There is never a fee unless damages are recovered on your behalf.