Raptiva is a drug that’s manufactured by Genentech, Inc., and it has been on the market for six years. It’s a drug that’s prescribed to treat the symptoms of psoriasis, which is a painful skin condition that progressively destroys the tissue and leaves behind painful thickened skin and scar tissue that creates daily misery for those who suffer from this condition.
Raptiva is prescribed for psoriasis, and while it’s not a cure for the disease, it did show a high degree of early success after it hit the market. Specifically, Raptiva works by blocking the activation of T-cells. T-cells are a type of white blood cell that occur naturally in the body, and when they are mistakenly activated at a level that’s too high, they can trigger immune responses that result in the calcification of skin and lead to the development of the thickening of the skin and the lesions that accompany this condition.
The FDA originally approved Raptiva for marketing, sale and distribution in the United States in 2003, and its specific purpose for approval was for the treatment of the symptoms of psoriasis based on the positive results from early clinical studies.
Unfortunately, within a few years of being released onto the market, reports of a whole host of serious side effects began to surface in conjunction with the use of Raptiva. Below is a brief overview of some of these side effects:
- Invasive fungal disease – This is more of a general description of several different types of fungi that can invade the body and cause a wide array of problems with tissue and organs.
- Bacterial sepsis – This potentially-fatal condition occurs when bacteria invade the body and penetrate the circulatory system, thereby placing organs such as the kidneys, liver and heart into a situation of danger.
- Encephalopathy – This condition is one in which the patient’s brain is affected, and it’s very difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are not uniform. Generally, the symptoms will depend on the part of the brain that’s attacked.
- Lymphoma – Lymphoma is cancer of the lymph nodes. This form of cancer can be defeated, but like any other, if it’s not caught early enough it can also be fatal.
- Viral meningitis – This virus attacks the fluids that are supposed to protect the brain, and it includes symptoms of fatigue, headaches, a stiff neck and a persistent fever.
- Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML) – PML is a condition that is otherwise rare, but it’s also extremely serious. It attacks the central nervous system, and is of particular risk to those patients with a suppressed immune system. General symptoms associated with PML include weakness, clumsiness, difficulties with speech and difficulties with vision.
After several reports of these side effects began to surface, three additional reports were released that notified the public of three people who had died after taking Raptiva. As a result, the FDA required a Black Box Warning to be affixed to containers of Raptiva that clearly defined the risks of side effects that had been linked to the medication.
Those who should not use Raptiva include those with a history of malignancies, those with tuberculosis or other problematic infections, those with particular forms of psoriasis that include guttate, erythrodermic or pustular psoriasis and those with suppressed immune systems.
How do I know if I’ve contracted a side effect from Raptiva?
Unfortunately, the conditions that have been linked to the use of Raptiva generally present symptoms that are common in much less severe medical problems. Therefore, it can be difficult to properly diagnose a problem such as PML or encephalopathy because they affect the brain and can present varied symptoms. Basically, if you are concerned about any potential problem as a result of using Raptiva, contact your doctor immediately to schedule a medical evaluation.
Can I file a lawsuit if I have suffered damages from taking Raptiva?
Possibly. While all medications have certain, anticipated side effects, a drug manufacturer has a duty to inform physicians adequately regarding the known risks associated with its drugs. If a manufacturer fails to do so, it can be held responsible to patients who are injured as the result of inadequate warnings, under a legal theory known as “product liability.” Depending upon the particular circumstances of your case, damages may include recovery for any of the following:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Emotional distress
If you or a loved one has experienced any health problems while taking Raptiva, you should contact your doctor immediately. You may also wish to contact an experienced Raptiva lawyer to discuss your legal options. As all legal claims are subject to time limits, however, you may risk forfeiture of your right to financial compensation if you delay.