The popular arthritis drug Humira is the latest drug to receive public attention. One woman is suing the drug's manufacturer, Abbott Laboratories, claiming the drug gave her cancer and that the company is responsible.
After receiving injections of Humira twice a month from 2008-2010, the woman was diagnosed with B-cell non-Hodgkin's follicular lymphoma (NHL)-a cancer of the immune system where too many white blood cells build up in the lymph nodes, blood and other areas of the body.
The woman-and her doctor-now say that Abbott Laboratories is responsible because they failed to provide adequate warnings to her and other patients about the increase in the rate of lymphomas and malignancies in patients that took Humira in a trial study. (Per FDA regulations, all drug manufacturers are required to provide consumers with warning labels of potentially dangerous side effects of a drug even if there is no exact causal relationship between the drug and the potential harm.)
The pharmaceutical giant provided warning information, she says, but "severely downplayed the risk" and failed to give "clear" and "strong" notifications to patients taking the drug. She claims that it wasn't until 2009-almost a year after she began taking the drug-when the FDA intervened and Abbott put a black box warning on the Humira label alerting patients about the potential cancer risks.
The case is currently pending in the Illinois Circuit Court in Cook County.
The FDA approved Humira in December 2002. In 2011, global sales of the drug reached almost $8 billion.
Source: Courthouse News Service, Arthritis Drug Humira Blamed for Cancer, Jack Bouboushian, July 25, 2012