Judge dismisses jury in N.J. fen-phen case|
Last Update: 12:24 PM ET Oct 5, 1999
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) -- A judge dismissed the jury in a
class-action lawsuit against one of the makers of the fen-phen diet drug
combination, raising expections of a possible out-of-court settlement.
In sending jurors home Monday, Superior Court
Judge Marina Corodemus said she would hear the
case without a jury starting Oct. 12 if a settlement is
not reached before then, plaintiffs' attorney Steven
Sheller said. The jury had been hearing testimony
intermittently since Aug. 11.
Sheller said he thought the case would be settled.
Officials with American Home Products, the drug
company, declined to comment.
The case pits the Madison-based company against
about 94,000 New Jersey residents who used the
diet pill combination, which was taken off the
market two years ago after being linked to serious
heart and lung damage in users. American Home
Products sold the "fen" half of the combination
under the brand name Pondimin, and made
Pondimin's chemical cousin Redux.
The plaintiffs did not develop heart or lung damage,
but the want American Home Products to cover the cost of future medical
checkups in case problems develop down the road.
Fenfluramine had been sold since the 1970s but became widely used in
the 1990s when doctors prescribed it for weight loss in combination with
another drug, phentermine. The combination became known as fen-phen.
When taken alone, phentermine never was associated with health
problems and it remains on the market.
More than 4,100 lawsuits have been filed in state and federal courts
against American Home Products over fenfluramine.
The company has proposed a national settlement in which it would pay
$1.2 billion for future medical examinations for healthy users of the drug,
and an additional $2.8 billion to settle individual suits from people who
claim the drug has harmed them.
Plaintiffs' attorneys claim the company hid information from doctors,
patients and regulators about possible links to heart valve disease and an
often fatal lung condition called primary pulmonary hypertension.
The company denies hiding information, and says it acted properly in
marketing the drugs.
Shares of American Home Products (AHP: news, msgs) were flat at 43