April 15, 2003 - Memos Show Novartis and Wyeth Knew of PPA Link to Stroke

Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Wyeth knew of possible health risks posed by phenylpropanolamine (PPA) in their over-the-counter medicines, despite company denials consumers could not be harmed, according to internal memos. PPA was used in numerous cold remedies and diet pills including versions of Dimetapp and Tavist-D.

In November 2000, the Food and Drug Administration warned that dozens of over-the-counter cold medicines and diet pills containing PPA could cause hemorrhagic strokes, especially in young women. Since then, consumers have filed thousands of lawsuits against the manufacturers.

Novartis and Wyeth continue to claim there was no reliable scientific evidence to link PPA to strokes and that their products were safe. But internal memos introduced last month as evidence in the lawsuits indicate the companies were aware of the health risks for years.


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