New cases brought against Fen-Phen

Thursday, October 30th 2008, 10:50 pm
By: News 9

By Dave Jordan, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Fen-Phen was once hailed as a medical breakthrough for people struggling with weight loss, but the drug has recently pulled from the market after being linked to heart and lung disease.

Most of the cases involving heart valve damage linked to Fen-Phen were resolved years ago, when the drug was recalled, but another disease linked to Fen-Phen got very little attention until recently.

By most accounts, Lora Renshaw said she was a healthy woman who led a relatively active life, but she now struggles to get through the day, relying on oxygen for the most basic tasks.

"Most of the time I can't even go to the mall and walk around the mall. If I carry anything, I'm very winded," Renshaw said. "The way my life has changed, it's just incredible."

In the early 90s, Renshaw took Fen-Phen. She's noticed her health change and scheduled a doctors appointment.

"They did every lung test imaginable," Renshaw said.

Last year, Renshaw was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, a condition doctors linked to the use of Fen-Phen.

"I was shocked," Renshaw said. "I could not believe what I was hearing."

Attorney Jim Sill believes Renshaw is not alone.

"What you may not know is that Oklahoma had the highest per capita usage of Fen-Phen," Sill said.

Sill believes Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Fen Phen knew about the dangers before the drug went to the market. He is now suing the company of behalf of Renshaw.

Sill alleges Wyeth "..falsely mislead potential users " about Fen-phen and "..failed to protect users from serious dangers.." that "Wyeth knew or should have known about."

A New Jersey jury recently came to the same conclusion and awarded a woman a $3 million judgment.

Sill was her attorney.

"We believed and the jury believed they didn't do testing because they didn't want to know the answer," Sill said.

Renshaw wants Wyeth to pay for lost wages and future medical care. Since her illness, she has researched all of her prescription drugs.

"I have to know for myself because at this point, nobody's going to do it for me," Renshaw said.

A Tulsa woman has also filed suit against the drug company after her husband died from pulmonary hypertension. He also used Fen-Phen.