According to The Food and Drug Administration, three patients taking a Genentech psoriasis drug have died of a rare brain infection, a known risk with the skin-clearing treatment. The FDA confirmed three cases and a possible fourth of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), which causes swelling of the brain and is usually fatal. The patients had been taking Genentech’s once-a-week injection Raptiva, which is used to treat red, scaly skin caused by psoriasis.
In October, the FDA added its most serious warning to Raptiva. This came after a 70-year-old patient died from PML while taking the drug. The agency stressed in a statement posted to its website that patients should be aware of the symptoms of the infection, which include weakness, blurred vision and difficulty speaking. The FDA says doctors should likewise monitor patients taking the drug for these signs. PML is typically seen in patients with weakened immune systems, and previously has been reported in patients taking Rituxan, a blockbuster arthritis and cancer drug marketed by Genentech (DNA) and Biogen Idec.
Source: Associated Press and USA Today
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