Awareness for the disease called psoriasis has taken a back seat to other chronic illnesses such as depression, hypertension, and diabetes type 2. However, 7.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with psoriasis. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease with no cure that affects the joints and skin. Unlike other chronic diseases, people with psoriasis wear the evidence of the disease on their skin in the form of red, scaly patches. So not only is the disease physically uncomfortable due to irritation of the skin, but it also causes social anxiety and self-consciousness, especially among patients with severe psoriasis. For patients of moderate to severe psoriasis, topical treatments usually have no significant effect on treating their symptoms. Thus, their doctors may recommend for them to seek phototherapy or systemic therapy, in which drugs are taken orally or injected. Due to the known risk of skin cancer with the use of phototherapy, patients probably believed they were choosing a safer alternative when the drug Raptiva came out in 2003. Unfortunately, this was not the case for many people.
Raptiva works by blocking the activation of certain immune cells called T cells and the migration of those cells to the skin. By doing this, Raptiva prevents T cells from being mistakenly activated, which causes inflammation to the skin in psoriasis. Unfortunately, Raptiva also causes T cells to become unresponsive to real threats to the human body, so users of Raptiva become exceptionally susceptible to infections. In other words, you may get meningitis, but at least your will skin look good.
Regardless of the inherent dangers of the drug, Raptiva continued to be distributed to patients with psoriasis up until the recent recall that was issued on April 8, 2009. Even before then, the FDA was aware of the drug’s serious risks. On October 16, 2008 the FDA issued a “black box” warning for Raptiva, the FDA’s sternest warning, about the risk of life-threatening infections. But Genentech, Raptiva’s manufacturer, continued to keep it in distribution. Following the warning, one serious and two fatal cases of a rare brain infection known as PML were reported from users of Raptiva. Genentech was then finally moved to “voluntarily” stop selling their product to preserve the safety of their consumers.
Genentech’s actions or lack thereof allowed their consumers to continue using a drug deemed unsafe by the FDA, which gave way to very grave consequences. PML is a rare but fatal infection, as there is no current cure. Therefore, people who contract this infection are either looking a death sentence or, best case scenario, severe disability for the rest of their life. If you or a loved one contracted PML or any other serious infection while taking Raptiva, take a stand against corporate negligence now. Contact Atkins & Markoff to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced defective drug attorneys. Genentech violated their obligation to keep the safety of their consumers at the forefront of their business, and you have to right to seek justice.