The decision comes a month after another jury in St. Louis ordered Wyeth to pay $75,000 in damages to a Kansas woman who alleged fen-phen damaged her heart valves. Wyeth once faced more than 175,000 claims over the diet combination, which was pulled off the market in 1997 after it was linked to heart problems and a fatal lung disease, and has set aside more than $21 billion to cover litigation.
Wyeth created a $3.75 billion national settlement program for former users in 2000 and added $1.3 billion to it in 2004. Docs wrote more than 6 million scrips for the diet drugs, which included Wyeth's Pondimin or Redux drugs and the generic phentermine, before the products were withdrawn. The company has been working to resolve remaining claims over the diet combination and has "several hundred'' remaining, Doug Petkus told Bloomberg News last month.
John Carey, Lisa Dean's lawyer, says he's disappointed that jurors never considered whether Wyeth should be held liable for selling a drug that harmed patients. "We think we established that the drug was defective,'' he says. "We look forward to trying the next'' fen-phen case set for trial in September, he added.
He argued that Dean suffered heart damage after taking the diet drugs in 1996. Dean sat in a wheelchair in court during closing arguments today. "A diet drug that is designed to help you lose a few pounds over a few months should not cause a heart defect,'' the lawyer told jurors. Wyeth's lawyers countered that Carey couldn't prove that Dean had suffered any injury from her fen-phen use.