Biogen Idec and Elan Corporation have reported two cases of a rare brain disease in patients treated with Tysabri, which is the companies’ multiple sclerosis drug. The cases of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy were disclosed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Tysabri, which is produced and distributed in an alliance between the two companies, was withdrawn from the market in 2005 after three clinical users of the drug contracted the brain disease, and two died. But Elan and Biogen had reported no new cases since Tysabri’s return to the market under restricted conditions in June 2006.
The three cases in 2005 involved patients who were simultaneously taking another drug to fight multiple sclerosis. It should be noted that such combined therapy has been banned since 2005. The patients in the most recent case had a history of taking other multiple sclerosis drugs, but had been on Tysabri alone for at least 14 months, according to the SEC filing.
Source: Associated Press and New York Times
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