In 2002, the FDA approved the marketing and use of Humira for the treatment of inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, plaque psoriasis, Chron’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The drug is administered through injection by a physician. Humira belongs to a class of drugs called TNF blockers. It works by limiting the functions of naturally occurring proteins in the body called tumor necrosis factor which attack and kill tumors. The TFN blockers in Humira are thought to reduce the amount of inflammation caused by these painful diseases. Almost immediately following the drug’s release however, the FDA began receiving reports of serious life-threatening side effects.
Among the more serious side effects associate with the use of Humira has to do with the fact that the TNF blockers may also reduce the body’s white blood cell count, leaving the patient more vulnerable to all types of infections including viral, bacterial, and fungal. Fungal infections are rare and extremely dangerous. If left untreated, they are often fatal. This is exactly the type of life-threatening infection diagnosed in Delores Teitz.
Mrs. Teitz began taking Humira to treat her painful rheumatoid arthritis in 2009. About seven months after receiving the Humira injection however, Mrs. Teitz began suffering from flu-like symptoms. Mrs. Tietz spent 21 days in the hospital where doctors were unable to identify the cause of her fever and chest pains. During that time her condition worsened; she suffered organ failure and eventually fell into a coma. Finally, doctors identified the illness as Humira-induced histoplasmosis- a rare and serious fungal infection. Once the infection was properly identified and treated, Mrs. Tietz recovered from the infection and filed a lawsuit against Abbot Laboratories, Humira’s manufacturer.
The lawsuit claimed that Abbot knew about the risk of developing histoplasmosis following the use of Humira and failed to properly warn consumers and physicians of those dangers. At trial, Abbot relied on a warning label that the FDA required them to place on Humira stating that the drug may cause histoplasmosis and other fungal infections. Even though the warning label was placed on Humira’s packaging in 2008 however, Abbot waited until May 17, 2010 to send a letter directly to physicians who were prescribing and administering the drug to their patients. Unfortunately for Abbot, that letter was sent to the physicians ten days after Mrs. Teitz was hospitalized.
Earlier this week, a North Dakota jury awarded the Teitz family $2.4 million dollars to compensate them for the harm caused to Mrs. Teitz by Humira. Interestingly the jury did not award damages on the basis that the drug itself was dangerous or defective, basing its decision instead on the fact that Abbot did not directly warn physicians about the risks associated with the drug until two years after they were aware of the dangers. The jury found this behavior unreasonable, believing that if treating physicians had been notified of these dangers sooner, they would have been able to diagnose Mrs. Teitz’s infection more quickly and avoid the organ failure and coma she suffered as a result. Abbot intends to appeal the jury’s decision.
In addition to the risk of fungal infection caused by the use of Humira, the FDA has also warned of an increase in the risk of developing lymphoma, breast and colon cancer, as well as Hepatitis B and several neurological disorders. For more information on the dangers of Humira, or if you have suffered any of these symptoms following your use of the drug, please contact the experienced defective drug attorneys at Dolman Law Group for a free consultation and case evaluation. (833) 606-DRUG .