Raptiva Removed from US Market


Genentech, the manufacturer of the psoriasis drug Raptiva, has announced they will voluntarily remove the drug from the US market by June 8, 2009. This is in response to Raptiva’s link to progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). PML is a serious brain infection that kills most of the people it infects within the first six months. Survivors of PML most often have serious and debilitating neurological problems.

Some of the symptoms of PML include:

  • Weakness and paralysis
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired speech
  • Loss of vision

These symptoms often mimic multiple sclerosis, and there is no reliable screening for PML. This may mean that those suffering from PML, as well as their physicians, may not even realize what they have.

Toward the end of February, the Food and Drug Administration announced that four people developed PML as a result of taking Raptiva for their psoriasis. Three of them died. Raptiva is a once-a-week injection that is, or was, widely recommended by healthcare providers due to the drug’s effectiveness at treating psoriasis. The FDA advised all healthcare providers to warn their psoriasis patients of the risk of PML.

There are no known treatments for PML, and it can be excruciating to watch a loved one suffer and die from this infection. Genentech has taken the correct steps of removing this defective drug from the market.