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Drug Maker Settles Fen-Phen Lawsuit

— A drug maker has agreed to pay $500,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging heart damage by the diet drug combination fen-phen that was the first in the nation to go to trial, The Dallas Morning News reported today.
     The settlement comes a week into the presentation of Sandra Moore’s case against American Home Products Corp. Moore had sought $110 million in damages.
     American Home, the world’s seventh-largest drug maker, agreed to the deal after a mediation session Wednesday night, the newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources.
     A company lawyer said late Thursday that the company may pull out of the settlement because details were leaked to the media. “We’re exploring our options,” said attorney Bill Sims.
     Moore, a retired Alvarado teacher who now lives in Missoula, Mont., claims she wasn’t warned about the risks of taking fenfluramine, half of the fen-phen combination, and Redux, a similar product. Both were marketed by Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, a subsidiary of American Home.

Hit With Hundreds of Lawsuits
     The other half of fen-phen, phentermine, was never associated with that damage when taken alone and is still on the market.
     The settlement would avert a jury verdict in a case that was being closely followed by others with similar claims against the company.
     Moore’s lawyer, Michael McGartland of Fort Worth, said the fact that the lawsuit was the first of its kind to go before a jury had no influence over the decision to settle.
     “Our concern has never been about the rest of the cases,” McGartland said. “It was Sandra Moore’s case, and we were just trying not to lose sight of that.”
     Moore claimed the company knew heart problems could result from taking fen-phen but hid them to maximize profits. Defense attorneys argued she has a mild and common disorder often called a heart murmur that could be hereditary.