What the State of California Has to Say About Fen-Phen Related Legislation

Phen-fen (or fen-phen), has been linked to serious medical complications that, in turn, led to a flurry of lawsuits and efforts to legislate reform redefining approval of new drugs and to curb the activity of trial lawyers.

UCLA Today (September 29, 1997), referencing the fact that legislation was held up over a statewide ban of fenfluramine (a component of phen-fen) reported:


The breast-beating in recent days over the perceived dangers of drugs to treat obesity has both positive and negative overtones. Litigation was initiated by reports of severe heart-valve abnormalities in a group of patients taking dexfenfluramine, or Redux, and fenfluramine, Pondimin, which is one of the drugs used in the popular phen-fen combination.

Among the positive side effects will be the closure of commercial phen-fen clinics. On the negative side, however, many other “practicioners” will move in to fill the void in a rush to reap the $30 billion annual windfall spent in the often desperate effort to slim down.

Senator Diane Feinstein made the following comments about the Class Action Fairness Act in July of 2004, citing a pharmacy owner sued for dispensing phen-fen:

Lawsuits were brought against the manufacturer of phen-fen, but the only pharmacy in the county was also named to keep the case in place already known for its lawsuit-friendly environment, according to the owner who was sued more than 100 times.

“I wish to speak in favor of the bill.”
“Supporters of this bill have clearly identified this problem and have come up with a reasoned solution.”
“This abuse comes from just some class action lawyers, who forum shop national class action lawsuits and file them in States and counties where they know the court will approve settlements favorable to them.”

“The Class Action Fairness Act goes a long way toward stopping forum shopping by allowing Federal courts to hear national class action lawsuits that involve plaintiffs and defendants from different States and which involve more than 5 million in claims.”

“The bill contains a consumer class action bill of rights’…To provide greater information and greater oversight of settlements that might unfairly benefit attorneys at the expense of truly injured parties.”

“It bans settlements that actually impose net costs on class members.”

“It requires that all settlements be written in plain English.”

Richard Alexander (personal injury specialist) in Confidential Settlements Should Be Banned in California (The Consumer Law Page) stated:

“California law should end confidentiality in legal settlements that hides evidence of dangerous products (phen-fen), environmental hazards or financial fraud. Secrecy should only be allowed to protect constitutional rights to privacy, trade secrets, or confidential personal or business information.”

A letter (CALA News) to Governor Schwarzenegger from CALA stated:

“California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) respectfully request that you veto Senate Bill 1489 as it is inherently unfair and could actually lock the courthouse door.”

“The threat of having to pay the AG’s costs is a formidable weapon against even mounting a defense. No one should be discouraged from trying to defend themselves because of the fear of being saddled with outrageous costs.”

Californians passed Proposition 64 to ban lawsuits without proof of harm, lawsuits filed on behalf of the public and not specific plaintiffs.

CALA defined Proposition 79 as legislation that lets personal injury lawyers file frivolous shakedown lawsuits every time a prescription is filled.

Nick Johnson

Post Author: mark

Leave a Reply