Pondimin (fenfluramine) is a drug that was part of the Fen-Phen anti-obesity medication (the other drug being phentermine). Manufactured by American Home Products Corp, Pondimin was introduced into the U.S. market in 1973. It is designed to increase the level of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin depresses the central nervous system, regulating mood and appetite. The end result is a feeling of fullness and loss of appetite.
Pondimin has been prescribed alone and/or in combination with phentermine (a.k.a. Fen-Phen) for weight loss.
Pondimin (fenfluramine) was approved by the FDA in 1973 for the short-term medical management of obesity.
Side effects associated with taking Pondimin include high blood pressure, rapid heart beat, heart problems, insomnia, anxiety, and nausea.
Pondimin was withdrawn from the U.S. market in 1997 after reports of heart valve disease and pulmonary hypertension, including a condition known as cardiac fibrosis. In addition to heart valve disease, the use of Pondimin has been found to increase the risk of developing Primary Pulmonary Hypertension or (PPH). PPH is a rare disease that causes the progressive narrowing of the blood vessels of the lungs.
Medical reports have also linked Pondimin to the occurrence of serious regurgitant cardiac valvular disease, including disease of the mitral, aortic, and/or tricuspid valves. As of July 8, 1997, there have been 33 cases reported to the FDA of unusual valvular morphology and regurgitation involving the mitral, aortic, and/or tricuspid valves, usually being multivalvular.
Pondimin is contraindicated in patients with diagnosed pulmonary hypertension, and in patients receiving monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. Do not administer Pondimin during or within 14 days following the administration of MAO inhibitors, since hypertensive crises may result.
What is Pulmonary Hypertension?
Pulmonary hypertension is an elevated blood pressure in the lungs. When the resistance to blood flow in the lungs goes up, the pressure in the pulmonary arteries also increases. The presence of pulmonary hypertension indicates either high blood flow, high resistance, or both. If left untreated, this can lead to heart failure, cyanosis, and eventually serious consequences including death.
How Does Pondimin work?
Pondimin (fenfluramine) triggers the release of serotonin – one of the many natural chemicals stored in the nerves which facilitate a nerve cell’s ability to send messages to another nerve cell in the system. Drugs which enhance serotonin levels are thought to provide a feeling of fullness.
What is Fen-Phen?
Fen-Phen is an anti-obesity medication (an anorectic) which consists of two drugs: fenfluramine (Pondimin) and phentermine. After reports of valvular heart disease and pulmonary hypertension primarily in women who had been undergoing treatment with Fen-Phen, the FDA requested its withdrawal from the market in September 1997.
Herbal Fen Phen- Dieters Switching to Herbal Fen Phen?
Since the withdrawal of Fen-Phen from the market, “herbal” Fen-Phen has been proposed as an alternative in treating obesity. But the FDA has issued a warning that herbal Fen-Phen has not been shown to be a safe and effective treatment for obesity and may contain ingredients that have been associated with injuries.
The main ingredients in most herbal Fen-Phen products are ephedrine and St. John’s wort. Ephedrine acts like amphetamines in stimulating the central nervous system and the heart. Ephedrine promotes weight loss in part by increasing the body’s temperature, and when this happens, the body burns more calories. Ephedrine use has been associated with high blood pressure, heart rhythm irregularities, strokes, insomnia, seizures tremors, and nervousness.
Can I file a lawsuit if I have suffered damages from taking Pondimin?
Possibly. While all medications have certain, anticipated side effects, a drug manufacturer has a duty to inform physicians adequately regarding the known risks associated with its drugs. If a manufacturer fails to do so, it can be held responsible to patients who are injured as the result of inadequate warnings, under a legal theory known as “product liability.” Depending upon the particular circumstances of your case, damages may include recovery for any of the following:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Emotional distress
If you or a loved one has experienced any health problems while taking Pondimin, you should contact your doctor immediately. You may also wish to contact an experienced Pondimin lawyer to discuss your legal options. As all legal claims are subject to time limits, however, you may risk forfeiture of your right to financial compensation if you delay.