Raptiva Lawsuit Filed By User Who Developed Lymphoma

A Texas man who was diagnosed with classic Hodgkin’s lymphoma has filed a Raptiva lawsuit, alleging that the recalled psoriasis drug caused him to develop the cancer.

The complaint was filed by Cary Massa, 51, against Xoma LLC and Roche’s Genentech subsidiary in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on January 7, 2011. Xoma helped Genentech develop Raptiva, and Genentech was acquired by Roche in March 2009, about one month before a Raptiva recall was announced in the United States.

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.

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In April 2009, Genentech issued a recall of Raptiva 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.

According to the lymphoma lawsuit over Raptiva filed by Massa, the drug allegedly decreases the ability of the body’s T-cells to fight off virulent infections, giving dormant infections that might be present in the body, like lymphoma and PML, the chance to attack. Messa alleges that Genentech failed to adequately warn doctors and patients about the risk of serious and potentially life threatening side effects of Raptiva.

Massa took Raptiva from February 2006 to January 2008 to treat his psoriasis. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in March 2009, and has undergone chemotherapy.

At the time of the 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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