Indiana couple files Phen-Fen lawsuit in Philly courts

By Jon Campisi | Aug 31, 2011

Pfizer and Wyeth are once against facing a civil claim over the much-litigated diet pill Phen-Fen, this one filed at Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court on Aug. 26 by an Indiana couple and their four children.

Philadelphia lawyer Kenneth Rothweiler, of the firm MacDonald Rothweiler Eisenberg, LLP, filed the mass tort action on behalf of Laura and Eric Veldman.

The defendants in the lawsuit are New York-based Pfizer, Inc., as well as Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

According to the complaint, Laura Veldman was prescribed and consumed the defendant’s appetite suppressant drug Pondimin as part of the Phen-Fen diet pill combination in May 1996, which she took between then and the summer of 2007.

“Throughout the course of treatment, Mrs. Veldman was never provided warnings, precautions or information by the Wyeth defendants regarding the risks of Pondimin,” the lawsuit states. “No prescribing doctor made any disclosure whatsoever to Mrs. Veldman of Pondimin’s association with the deadly disease PAH/PPH.”

PPH, the suit states, is a lung disorder in which blood pressure in the pulmonary artery rises far above normal levels, thereby placing “significant strain on the heart and lungs.”

Laura Veldman was diagnosed with having PPH on Sept. 8, 2009, the suit claims, and since her diagnosis, she has undergone continuous intravenous treatment for the disease, which is incurable.

The lawsuit states that the Veldman’s, and their four adopted children, ages 8 to 11, “live daily with the anxiety, emotional distress, depression, pain and suffering caused by PAH/PPH. Their lives have been seriously and negatively impacted as a result of her diet pill-caused disease.”

The lawsuit claims that since Pondimin’s removal from the market in September 1997, the defendants have engaged in a campaign of “misinformation and disinformation in furtherance of the medical fiction that its diet pill products are not medically or scientifically associated with an increased risk of PPH after one year or more from the date of a patient’s last ingestion of the anorexigen.”

The Veldman’s lawsuit contains counts of product liability, negligence, breach of warranty of merchantability, breach of warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, and loss of consortium and companionship. For each of those counts, the plaintiff’s are seeking a judgment against the defendants, jointly and severally, for compensatory damages in a sum in excess of $50,000, plus related court costs.

The suit also contains an additional count of punitive damages, claiming that the defendants’ actions were reckless and/or wanton. They are seeking judgment in an amount in excess of $50,000 plus related costs for that final count as well.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The case number is 110803872.

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