Pfizer World Headquarters in New York City. (Photo: Norbert Nagel via Wikimedia Commons)
Correction: This article has been changed to correct the spelling of attorney Wilfred P. Coronato of Hughes Hubbard & Reed’s name.
Pfizer Inc. has won a defense verdict in Massachusetts federal court against allegations that a plaintiff was not adequately warned of the risks of developing pulmonary arterial hypertension from using the Fen-Phen diet-drug duo.
The drug, Pondimin, was made by Wyeth-LLC, which is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Pfizer.
The jury found last month that plaintiff Michael Tersigni had not shown by a preponderance of the evidence that Wyeth failed to adequately warn his doctor of the medical risks posed by Pondimin.
Tersigni argued that the drugmaker did not adequately warn of the risks of primary pulmonary hypertension or valvular heart disease from using Pondimin.
Tersigni said because of his use of Pondimin he had primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH), a medical condition characterized by elevated blood pressure in the blood vessels of his lungs. Tersigni’s PPH was most likely caused from his left-sided heart disease, Pfizer said.
Pfizer said that, when Tersigni was prescribed Pondimin, the label warned his doctor of an association between Pondimin and PPH.
Although Pfizer contended its subsidiary only needed to warn of the risks of PPH, the plaintiffs argued “the jury may still find the label inadequate even if the label warned of the exact injury suffered by Mr. Tersigni,” according to the plaintiff’s trial memorandum.
The jury was asked to determine if Wyeth had failed to warn of all the medical risks posed by Pondimin.
Tersigni, now 58, has suffered from obesity-related health problems for more than 20 years, smoked two packs of cigarettes per day for at least 15 years, and used alcohol, prescription narcotics and benzodiazepines such as Lorazepam, the defendant also argued.
The plaintiff was represented by Gregory Bubalo and Paula S. Bliss of Bubalo Goode Sales & Bliss PLC in Boston.
The defendant was represented by Cynthia D. Vreland, Michael J. Bayer and Kevin S. Prussia of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP in Boston, Wilfred P. Coronato of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP in Jersey City, N.J., Theodore V.H. Mayer, Michael D. Tiger and Jessica S. Studness of Hughes Hubbard in New York, Anand Agneshwar of Arnold & Porter LLP in New York and Heidi K. Hubbard of Williams & Connolly LLP in Washington, D.C.
U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns presided over the trial.