Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A strange world...

In 2001, Alicia Mundy wrote Dispensing with the TruthIt is the story of the battle over fen-phen, the drug combination that was ultimately withdrawn from the market because some patients who were taking it developed heart and lung damage, most notably pulmonary hypertension.

Many of PHA's members and some of our board members became PH patients after taking fen-phen.  Indeed, Alicia Mundy's book opens with the story of Mary Linnen, the daughter of former PHA board member Tom Linnen and his wife, Mary Jo.  As the liner notes describe Mary, she was "a healthy young woman...who took the drugs for only twenty-three days to lose weight before her wedding, and then died in the arms of her fiance a few months later".

I've been thinking a lot recently of Mary and Tom and Mary Jo and others like Candi who lost their health or their lives or family members to PH developed through fen-phen (Pondamin and Redux).

On July 13, the New York Times reported under the headline F.D.A. Review of Diet Pill Relieves Investors that the drug Qnexa had received a positive staff review of it's safety and effectiveness.  The maker's shares immediately soared 15% while two competing drugs soon due for FDA review went up 9% and 21 %. 

I understand that weight loss is the holy grail of American life but I - and all of us who are part of the PH community - have seen the collateral damage.  Qnexa contains the amphetamine phentermine -- one half the ingredients of the fen-phen combination.  The makers would say, it's the safe half. 


On June 15, the New York Times carried a second report that the FDA panel of expert advisors reviewing the drug on June 14 had voted 10 to 6 to recommend against approval of the drug based on safety concerns.

Now the FDA has a choice.  We'll see what they do.

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