Phen-Fen is Not a Good Combination

Wyeth Corp. is a proud pharmaceutical company that began as a drugstore in the 1860s. The two brothers that founded it were innovators in their field. They actually invented the modern method of manufacturing tablets.

During the 20th century, Wyeth Corp. introduced some of the most innovative medications that have helped millions of people with various conditions worldwide. At one time, it was one of the top pharmaceutical companies in the country. They introduced such famous medications as Advil, Anacin, Premarin, and a host of other big names.

Over the last 100 years, pharmaceutical companies have put billions of dollars into research of different types of medication. As the average weight of people in the United States increased in the late 20th century, a lot of emphasis was placed on finding a medication that could help fight obesity. Researchers thought they had hit pay dirt when they found that a drug combination of the medications fenfluramine and phentermine were found to cause significant weight loss and individuals who used them.

Phen-fen and Weight Loss

In the early 1990s, researchers were excited to find that a combination of two Wyeth Corporation drugs actually helped people lose weight. Success stories of people losing weight were everywhere. In the fervor of the moment, no one thought about side effects or physical damage. An alarming number of people died while using this medicine combination. As researchers looked into the problem, they found that 30% of people who could use this medicine combination had heart valve damage.

Fenfluramine came on the scene in the early 1970s. It works in the brain by increasing blood levels of a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that makes people feel good, and also helps reduce pain naturally. One side effect of this blood chemical is that it seems to elevate the mood wall reducing the appetite. Perhaps this is how it works to reduce weight.

The success of fenfluramine in the use to fight obesity was short-lived, because the FDA pulled from the market in 1997. They found that a number of people had died while using the drug for weight loss. It seemed that the heart is full of serotonin receptors. Scientists theorize that the action of fenfluramine in increasing serotonin levels actually damaged the serotonin receptors in heart valves. Researchers later found that as many as 30% of people using the drug combination of Fen-Phen had heart valve damage.

Phentermine was introduced in the late 1950s. It was always classed as an appetite suppressant medication. Phentermine works on another of the neurotransmitters in the brain, called norepinephrine. It also increases epinephrine and adrenaline in the bloodstream, which seems to burn excess fat. These two actions combined together do work well in helping people to lose weight. Unlike fenfluramine, phentermine has had no reported problems with this medication. Phentermine is an amphetamine and is considered a controlled substance in some countries. So far, there have been no reported cases of addiction unlike other amphetamines. The medication has many side effects including sleeplessness, dizziness, high blood pressure, restlessness and a number of other symptoms which are not dangerous unless you have high blood pressure.

Here Come the Lawsuits

Inevitably, large numbers of lawsuits were filed against Wyeth Corporation for malpractice. By the end of a difficult time, more than 50,000 lawsuits had been filed against the company. Some experts believed that the total liability for Wyeth would total more than $14 billion.

This case represents a good sample to the public as to why medical malpractice attorneys are not always the bad guys. The damage done to Fen-Phen users was permanent and life-threatening. Without the help and advice of professional lawyers, these patients would have been unable to get restitution to help with their medical bills and pain and suffering.

In every case, there always seems to be someone that has to milk the system. In 2008, a trial took place, the alleged that attorneys in Kentucky had stolen a lot of money from their clients in Fen-Phen cases. The trial ended up being declared a mistrial.

The fortunes of the once very proper spreads and well thought of Wyeth Corporation have turned sour since the 1990s. During a clinical trial of hormone replacement therapy, researchers found that women were as severe risk for heart attacks. They subsequently recommended that most women no longer take hormone replacement therapy. After this, shares of Wyeth Corporation stock plummeted.

While this trouble was going on, Wyeth was trying to take over a competitor in the pharmaceutical industry. But they had competition. Pfizer was in the same battle. Pfizer eventually one and merged with the other company, and now is the number one pharmaceutical company in the United States.

Wyeth continues to research and provide medications to the medical industry. Hopefully in time, their good name will be restored.