Dimetapp maker sued after boy dies from strokeMay 23, 2001 | AP The parents of a 10-year-old boy who suffered a stroke and later died after taking Dimetapp sued the makers of the popular over-the-counter cold medicine on Monday for $41 million US.
Brad and Donna Walker of Portland accuse American Home Products Corp. of negligence and failing to provide warnings that a key ingredient in the medication could be dangerous for children.
A similar lawsuit was filed in federal court in Philadelphia Monday by a woman who suffered a debilitating stroke a day after taking Dimetapp. Vicki D. Vogt of Honeybrook, Pa., is seeking $40 million.
In November, the Food and Drug Administration warned that dozens of over-the-counter cold medicines and diet pills containing phenylpropanolamine, or PPA, could cause hemorrhagic strokes, especially in young women.
Health Canada didn't issue an official warning at the time but it advised people not to take products containing PPA unless prescribed by a doctor.
The strong warning led major drug store chains to strip the products from shelves while drug makers quickly reformulated the medicines -- including such brands as Alka-Seltzer and Dexatrim -- to remove PPA.
American Home Products, based in Madison, N.J., is the country's fifth-largest drug maker. Spokesman Fran Sullivan said Monday that the company doesn't comment on pending litigation.
Mathew Walker suffered a seizure and lapsed into a coma in June 1996 after his pediatrician told his mother to give him Dimetapp to prevent ear infections from swimming. The boy died in October 1999 after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke, which is rare in children.
"Had somebody warned me, or had it been on the label, I would have chosen another method of treatment," Donna Walker said at a news conference with her husband Monday. "I would never have risked my child's life."
The suit also names pediatrician Steven Burns, whose spokeswoman said he could not comment until he talks to an lawyer.
In the Philadelphia suit, Vogt said she took Dimetapp in November 1998 and suffered a hemorrhagic stroke the next day. She is permanently disabled, the suit says.
More than 9,000 suits have been filed against American Home Products relating to its manufacture of fenfluramine, the "fen" in the fen-phen diet drug. The drug was withdrawn in 1997 after it was linked to potentially fatal heart damage.