Dietary Weight Loss Drugs and Medical Malpractice


The weight-loss industry is booming in the United States, and probably will continue to grow as the nation experiences what the Surgeon General has deemed an “obesity epidemic.” As a result, drug makers are constantly seeking to develop and market that lucrative “magic pill” that will facilitate weight loss.

In fact, drug companies have been marketing diet pills in various forms for more than twenty-five years, and desperate patients have been more than willing to try them, often with tragic consequences. Sadly, in a quest to become healthier, unwitting users have subjected themselves to dangerous diet drugs, experiencing not an improvement in health, but rather serious health problems and even death.

In 1992, for instance, pharmaceutical companies marketed two diet pills called Fenfluramine and Phentermine, to be used in combination and therefore dubbed “Fen-Phen.” Unfortunately, tens of thousands of Americans have suffered very serious injuries from taking these diet drugs and similar ones. Theseotc phentermine alternatives injuries include heart valve damage and potentially fatal primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH).

It is unclear how many deaths have been directly attributed to extended use of fenfluramine but in 2004 a Texas jury awarded $1 billion to the estate of a deceased woman after finding that Fen-Phen caused her death. Many Fen-Phen users face heart valve replacement surgery, and countless others now live in fear because they do not know what will happen if their disease progresses. Thousands of others remain unaware of their injuries because they have not yet had the medical testing required for proper diagnosis-often an echocardiogram, which is, in essence, a noninvasive and painless ultrasound examination of the heart.

There is strong evidence that some of the companies involved in marketing and selling Fen-Phen knew that these drugs were causing serious, even fatal, injuries, and that they deliberately concealed that information from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to protect their profits. Fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine were removed from the market in September 1997, at the request of the FDA, but by then significant damage was done, and thousands of Americans suffered needless, but very serious, injurie