In January 2012, one of the lawyers for the plaintiff announced the Stephen Johnson lawsuit had been settled. Genentech, maker of Raptiva, issued a statement that the lawsuit had not been settled. According to Bloomberg Businessweek (1/26/12), the lawyer later retracted the statement, calling it an error.
Stephen Johnson was a 46-year-old who took Raptiva for psoriasis. After taking Raptiva for five years, Johnson died of PML in 2009 and his family filed a lawsuit against Genentech.
Raptiva was pulled from the US market in 2009 after reports surfaced of three patients who were diagnosed with PML. According to the FDA, the patients were between the ages of 47 and 73 and were using Raptiva to treat moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. Two of the patients with confirmed PML died and one patient with possible PML also died. One patient with confirmed PML survived.
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PML is a severe, progressive neurologic disease that typically occurs in people with compromised immune systems. As the FDA noted, there is no known effective treatment for PML. When the FDA issued a health advisory about Raptiva, it reported that longer, continuous use of the drug could further increase the risk of PML and that there are no reliable tests to predict whether a patient would develop PML after taking Raptiva.
Raptiva (known generically as efalizumab) was approved to treat moderate to severe plaque psoriasis in 2003.
The Stephen Johnson lawsuit, which was scheduled to start in court on June 4, 2012, is Johnson v. Genentech Inc, RG 10-494957.