You are here: Home pathway Area of law pathway Fen Phen

Defective Drugs Lawyers and Attorneys Legal Help

Fen Phen

The term fen-phen is an abbreviation for the combination of two drugs.  Fen or Fenfluramine is more commonly known as Pondimin. Phen or phentermine is more commonly known by its brand name Ionamin. Both drugs act to alter the serotonin levels in the brain.  Serotonin at different levels acts to block feelings of hunger.  Each drug is potentially neurotoxic due to each drugs ability to affect the serotonin levels in the brain, either separately or in concert.  In combination these drugs are used to treat people who wish to lose weight.  Unfortunately growing evidence suggests that fenfluramine taken alone or in combination with phentermine may be responsible for primary pulmonary hypertension, heart valve problems, and neurotoxicity of the brain.

Fen-Phen and other diet drugs can affect the valves of the heart in various ways. There are four main valves in the human heart -- the pulmonic, mitral, tricuspid, and aortic valve.

  • The mitral valve can develop mitral stenosis, which is a narrowing of the mitral valve. This condition can impede blood flow from the left atrium chamber of the heart to the left ventricle chamber or can cause backflow of blood into the left atrium. These drugs can also cause mitral insufficiency, which results in the regurgitation (back-flow) of blood to the left ventricle. 
  • Aortic stenosis can be caused by the use of diet drugs. Aortic insufficiency results in increased left ventricular volume and decreased efficiency of the heart due to the back flow of blood. 
  • Tricuspid stenosis is generally encountered in association with mitral stenosis. Tricuspid stenosis causes pulsations of the jugular veins.

Unfortunately, these diet drugs can cause multi-valvular disease. Symptoms of valve disease include shortness of breath, occasional dizziness, increased pulse pressure, fainting episodes, fatigue and palpitations. Diagnosis of heart valve problems is made through the use of the echocardiogram and the cardiac catheterization.