A Reuters article today quotes drug manufacturer Wyeth as saying a federal judge has approved an amendment to a national settlement of lawsuits over its recalled “fen-phen” diet drugs that will speed compensation for the least serious health claims. Exerpts from the article:
The May 2004 amendment of the settlement between Wyeth and lawyers for former fen-phen users was approved by Judge Harvey Bartle in Philadelphia. It changes payment procedures and guidelines and creates a new supplemental fund, into which Wyeth will ultimately deposit $1.275 billion.
Company spokesman Doug Petkus said the money is part of the $21.1 billion Wyeth has previously set aside to cover legal costs and settlements since two of its diet drugs were recalled in 1997 after being linked to heart-valve damage. He said Wyeth is not contemplating new charges.
The agreement covers about 42,000 people who have not yet been compensated under the earlier Wyeth global settlement with former users of the diet drugs, Petkus said.
“These claims involve people with the least serious” alleged harm from the drugs, said Petkus, but represent “the most numerous” outstanding claims.
Thousands of other former users of the drugs, typically alleging more serious harm, have opted out of the national settlement. They are reserving the right to sue Wyeth, in hopes of winning greater compensation.