Pickett says drugs caused his disease

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 7, 1999

FAYETTE — Claude Pickett told a Jefferson County jury Tuesday that he feels pain and pressure in his lungs as a result of taking the diet drug Redux.

Pickett, a Natchez resident, is among five plaintiffs suing American Home Products, which marketed Redux and manufactured a related drug, Pondimin. The plaintiffs say the drugs caused heart and lung problems and that they were not warned about the possible side effects.

But attorneys for the No. 5 drug maker, which also makes Robitussin and Advil, maintain that Pickett and his fellow plaintiffs are not actually ill and that they were warned about possible side effects.

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&uot;I know the difference between pain prior and after taking Redux,&uot; testified Pickett, who says he suffers from the lung disease pulmonary hypertension. &uot;You could feel the difference. As I sit here now, there isn’t pain, but I can feel the pressure.&uot;

In his testimony Tuesday, Pickett likened his developing the lung disease to a story he saw on television about a man who knowingly transmitted the HIV virus to his girlfriend.

&uot;I thought, I’m in the same type of situation,&uot; Pickett said, &uot;whether it was intentional or not.&uot;

Redux, a dexfenfluramine, and Pondimin, a fenfluramine, were part of a drug cocktail prescribed by many doctors in the 1990s for weight loss. Coupled with phentermines, which AHP does not make, the treatment is called fen-phen. Redux and Pondimin have been taken off the market, but phentermines are still available.

The plaintiffs maintain that AHP knew about more cases of pulmonary hypertension and valvular heart disease linked to the diet drugs than it put on its warning labels.

The plaintiffs are reportedly seeking $2 billion in damages.