Court OKs Amendment to National Diet Drug Settlement
A federal district court judge has approved an amendment to the National Diet Drug Settlement, moving Wyeth one step closer to settling with the largest group of plaintiffs involved in a class action lawsuit over the company's fen-phen products.
Judge Harvey Bartle III of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania approved the proposed "Seventh Amendment" to the National Diet Drug Settlement, following a fairness hearing Jan. 18 and 19.
"This is another important milestone in the Seventh Amendment approval process," Lawrence Stein, senior vice president and general counsel of Wyeth said in a statement. "Although the proposed amendment is still subject to appeal, we are encouraged by Judge Bartle's approval."
The Seventh Amendment calls for the creation of a new claims processing structure, funding arrangement and payment schedule for matrix Level I or II claims, the least serious but most numerous claims in the settlement. The settlement involves claims filed against Wyeth by users of Pondium (fenfluramine) and Redux (dexphenfluramine), two Wyeth drugs used in the popular fen-phen diet treatment. The drugs were recalled in 1997 after research showed they might cause heart-valve damage and a fatal lung condition.
Under the terms of the amendment, all qualified Level I and II claimants would receive a pro rata share of a new $1.275 billion settlement fund to be created by Wyeth. Class members who have more serious claims (Level III and IV) are not affected by the amendment.