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Med-mal suit over weight-loss drug settled for $750K

The estate of a Midlands woman who died after allegedly being improperly prescribed a weight-loss drug has reached a $750,000 confidential medical malpractice settlement with the woman’s physician, the attorney for the estate reports.

Francis “Brink” Hinson of the Finkel Law Firm in Columbia reports that the estate alleged that the defendant physician improperly overprescribed phendimetrazine tartrate, a weight-loss drug, to the victim, causing her death.

Phendimetrazine is an “anorectic” drug, designed to act as an appetite suppressant by impacting the central nervous system in a way that increases both the patient’s heart rate and blood pressure. Long-term use of phendimetrazine is known to cause cardiovascular problems, including abnormal cardiac rhythm and an enlarged heart.

Both because of the potential physical impact on patients and the potential for drug dependency and abuse, the drug is categorized as a Schedule III controlled substance. The FDA has approved it only for short-term use, and the manufacturer states that it is indicated for use only for a few weeks, Hinson said.

In its complaint, the estate alleged that the physician improperly prescribed the phendimetrazine and another similar anorectic drug on a near-constant basis over a span of nine years. It asserted that overuse of the drug increased the patient’s blood pressure, thereby straining her heart muscles and causing her heart to grow bigger and develop an abnormal rhythm. The victim died of cardiac arrest in February 2015, having filled her 67th prescription of the drug just a few days prior.

The estate has also brought claims against the pharmacists and pharmacy who repeatedly dispensed the medication at issue, alleging that the pharmacists should have recognized the improper duration and use of the dangerous drugs and taken steps to ensure their patient’s safety. Those claims remain ongoing, Hinson said.

Follow David Donovan on Twitter @SCLWDonovan

SETTLEMENT REPORT – MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

Amount: $750,000

Injuries alleged: Death

Case name: Confidential

Court: Confidential

Date of settlement: June 1

Attorney for plaintiff: Francis “Brink” Hinson of the Finkel Law Firm in Columbia

Attorneys for defendant: Confidential

 

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