Phenylpropanolamine (PPA)

Our lawyers with the Phoenix law firm of Phillips Law Group understand the complexities involved with defective drug litigation, including PPA lawsuits. PPA, also known as Phenylpropanolamine, has become newsworthy because of the recently published study by Yale University that confirmed the relationship between this over-the-counter drug and stroke due to an elevated blood pressure inside the brain that caused the blood vessels there to burst, also called a hemorrhagic (bleeding) or hypertensive stroke.

Hemorrhagic strokes typically occur in the elderly and are extremely rare in those under the age of 50. This five-year Yale University study comparing PPA use among stroke survivors with healthy people concluded that PPA increases stroke risk for young women within three days of taking appetite suppressants containing PPA, or within three days of taking their first-ever PPA dose for any reason.

PPA was used as an ingredient in many over-the-counter medications and prescription medications for colds, sinus, allergy, cough drugs and diet and appetite suppressant drugs and was found in over 400 products, which included over-the-counter appetite suppressants and cough and cold remedies. A few of the more common over-the-counter drugs that contained PPA are: Acutrim, Alka Seltzer, Alka Seltzer Cold Plus Medicine, Contact, Dimetapp, Dristan, Halls Menthol-Lyptus, Robitussin, Sine-Off, Tavist-D and Triaminic.

A 29 year old woman with no prior medical problems suffered a hypertensive stroke after taking PPA. This was written up on the front page of The New York Times, December 13, 2000. Some of the current litigation involves Alka Seltzer Plus, which previously contained PPA and was sold as a cold remedy or for nasal congestion. Some consumers who were taking a prescription medicine containing PPA developed a hypertensive crisis and stroke soon after using the medicine. In one case involving a famous New York photographer, death occurred within a matter of hours of PPA use. Another case involved Tavist-D, made by Novartis (formerly Sandoz), which was taken as a cold remedy. Another case involved PPA in a product sold for weight reduction because of its inherent appetite suppression effect.

The Yale study demonstrated a significant risk of hemorrhagic stroke in users of PPA, with or without concurrent use of other drugs. On the strength of that study and numerous side effect reports, a FDA advisory panel warned in October 2000 that the use of PPA in over-the-counter drugs was unsafe and should be removed from non-prescription drugs. Other safer drugs were available for the same purposes for which PPA was used. Close on the heels of that advisory warning, it was announced that the FDA has moved to ban over-the-counter sales of PPA because of the increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke for users. The manufacturers of PPA have removed their products from store shelves in the wake of the FDA's actions.

Consumers should not use any products that contain PPA (phenylpropanolamine) because PPA is believed to be responsible for 200 to 500 bleeding strokes each year. While these products were reformulated and PPA was removed, they were never recalled. These products may be lurking in your medicine cabinet. If the label says it contains PPA, the lawyers with Phillips Law Group in Phoenix, Arizona, advise you to throw it away.

If you or someone you know has used an over-the-counter weight loss or cold and cough remedy and have suffered a stroke or similar serious injury through the use of PPA, contact the attorneys with Phillips Law Group to see if you have a claim for the harm that you have been caused.

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