Genentech Recalls Raptiva

With reports of its psoriasis drug linked to progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a serious, progressive neurologic disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system, Genentech has ordered the recall of Raptiva. The drug became available to treat psoriasis in 2003. Since that time, reports of brain infection caused by the suppression of the immune system have dogged the psoriasis drug. In October 2008, the FDA issued a black box warning for Raptiva because it had been linked to serious, life-threatening brain infections.
Raptiva is designed to suppress the immune system in order to treat the psoriasis. However, the suppression of T-cells increases susceptibility to brain infections such as PML.
Since the Raptiva recall just occurred, there remain many questions as to why the drug was approved for use. Did Genentech know about these life-threatening effects and when did they know them? Once again, it’s tragic that psoriasis patients didn’t know about the severity of the Raptiva side effects. As is often the case, healthcare professionals were also unaware and were not able to protect their patients from these brain infections caused by Raptiva.