American Home Products has announced a plan to pay a maximum of $3.75 billion in compensation to resolve litigation against the company brought by users of the diet drugs known as Pondimin and Redux. In the event it is approved, it will offer a range of benefits depending on the circumstances of each claimant.
The range of benefits will apply to 4 basic categories, including: refunds for drug prescriptions; medical screening; additional medical services or cash payments; and, substantial compensation for users with serious heart valve damage.
Based on federal complex litigation rules, the plan will be subject to court approval. The supervising judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania will establish a procedure to advise users of the terms of the settlement and then mandate a judicial review process. A claims resolution facitity should manage payouts under any plan, based on models in prior similar cases.
According to court records, 4,100 Fen/Phen/Redux victims have filed suit against the company. The suits allege that AHP failed to test and warn diet drug users of health risks, including heart valve damage and pulmonary hypertension, which can be fatal.
"As part of the approval process, we hope the court sets up an expedited hearing process to consider the most serious cases, included those with PPH, before it is too late for many victims", says Guerry R. Thornton, a lawyer in Atlanta handling individual cases. "We commend the parties for trying to establish a fair plan, but we will urge priority status and maximum compensation for those with catastrophic injuries", says Thornton, who was not involved in the negotiations.
The plan will incorporate complex recovery rules based on legal principles controlling drug liability cases. Claimants will have to show threshold valve disability ratings under FDA rules and meet strict award guidelines. The recovery grid is divided into: Fund A ($1 billion) for reimbursements, medical sreenings & services; Fund B ($2.5 billion) to compensate claimants with heart valve disease. It is projected that the most serious cases may receive up to $1.5 million
Diet drug claimants can obtain more information about legal-medical rights related to Fen/Phen and Redux at the firm's website:
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Guerry R. Thornton, Jr.
THE AUTHOR: Guerry R. Thornton, Jr., has handled mass tort claims in the $2.5 billion Dalkon Shield and $4.0 billion Breast Implant plans; also, he has published articles on mass tort litigation in Trial magazine and The National Law Journal.