4 Md. women sue manufacturers of fen-phen

October 16, 1997|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

Four Maryland women filed a class action suit in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt yesterday against the makers and distributors of two controversial weight-loss drugs, alleging the drugs caused health problems that put their lives at risk.

Linda S. Higgs of Laurel, Maria Montgomery of Potomac, Judith A. Pino of Bowie and Joann M. Woodward of Annapolis allege that taking fenfluramine and phentermine exposed them to "potentially life-threatening side effects and diseases."

Plaintiffs attorney Phillip L. Feliciano said the suit is one of several filed across the country by women who might suffer heart problems from the drugs, often used in a combination known as fen-phen.

The drugs have been sold widely across the country in recent years, with 18 million prescriptions written in the past year.

Feliciano said the women want a judge to require that a medical monitoring program be established and funded by the drug firms named as defendants -- Gate Pharmaceuticals of Sellersville, Pa., Smithkline Beecham Corp. of Philadelphia, Zenith Goldline Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and A. H. Robbins Co. of Richmond, Va.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to the nation's doctors in July asking them to report instances in which patients developed heart-valve defects after taking the fen-phen combination.

Pub Date: 10/16/97

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