Raptiva Infection Lawsuit Filed in California After Recall

A complaint was filed last week in California on behalf of a three psoriasis patients who allegedly suffered serious side effects of Raptiva. The lawsuit was filed on April 9, 2009, the day after Genentech announced that they were issuing a Raptiva recall in the United States due to an increased risk of infections associated with use of the medication.

The Raptiva lawsuit was filed in Alameda Superior Court on behalf of three individuals who suffered serious brain infections and related injuries which they indicate were caused by their use of Raptiva, a once-weekly injection used to treat moderate to severe psoriasis.

The first plaintiff, Mary Hedrick, developed a brain infection known as herpes viral encephalitis, which has resulted in permanent nervous system and brain damage. The second plaintiff, Shirley Boxell, filed a complaint on behalf of her 26-year-old daughter, Megan, who died of a brain infection. The third plaintiff, Bruce Harwell, alleged that he suffered severe leucopenia from Raptiva.

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In October 2008, the FDA required Genetech to add a “black box” warning about possible Raptiva infection side effects, such as viral meningitis, invasive fungal disease, bacterial sepsis and a fatal brain infection known as progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, commonly referred to as PML.

On February 19, 2009, a statement was released by the FDA confirming that one possible and three confirmed cases of Raptiva PML infections have been identified. At least three of those patients have died.

Last week, on April 8, 2009, Genentech agreed to issue a phased recall of Raptiva, asking physicians to stop prescribing the medication. They indicated that the drug will no longer be available in the United States by June 2009, because the risk of patients developing fatal brain infections outweighs the benefits provided by the medication.

A number of product liability lawyers are reviewing potential Raptiva infection lawsuits, but the litigation is not expected to involve a substantial number of claims.

At the time of the recall, Raptiva was only being used by about 2,000 people in the United States, and it had only been used by 46,000 people worldwide since it was first introduced in 2003.

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