Raptiva Infection Lawsuit Filed Over Meningitis and Acute Retinal Necrosis

A Raptiva infection lawsuit has been filed by a Massachusetts man who claims that the recalled psoriasis drug caused him to develop meningitis and acute retinal necrosis, which left him legally blind. 

The complaint was filed on January 10 in the U.S. District Court District of Massachusetts Eastern Division by Gerald Sylvia and his wife, Cynthia Rose. The lawsuit was brought against Genentech, Inc. and Xoma LLC; the developers of Raptiva, alleging that side effects of Raptiva lowered Sylvia’s immune system, allowing him to contract the serious infections.

According to the Raptiva lawsuit, Sylvia suffered permanent, disabling and horrific injuries from the infections and lost vision in his right eye.

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The Plaintiff alleges that the drug makers knew or should have known about the risk of infections from Raptiva, but failed to warn doctors or patients. Sylvia’s lawsuit also claims that Genentech and Xoma left a defective drug on the market when they knew safer alternatives were available.

Raptiva (efalizumab) was a once-weekly injection used to treat psoriasis. In October 2008, Genentech added a “black box” warning to the medication in the United States indicating that infection side effects of Raptiva could increase the risk of viral meningitis, invasive fungal disease, bacterial sepsis, the rare brain disease progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) and other opportunistic infections.

In April 2009, Genentech issued a Raptiva recall in the United States after it was linked to three confirmed and one suspected case of PML. The brain infection attacks the central nervous system and is often fatal. Symptoms can include weakness, paralysis, vision loss, impaired speech, cognitive deterioration and death. It was determined that the risks associated with the drug outweighed any potential benefits provided in treating psoriasis.

At the time Raptiva was removed from the market, the drug was only being used by about 2,000 people in the Untied States and it had only been used by 46,000 people worldwide since it was first introduced in 2003.

Several Raptiva recall lawsuits were previously filed in California state court around the time of the recall on behalf of individuals who allege that they suffered serious brain infections and related injuries from Raptiva.

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