A Chicago jury has awarded $2.2 million to a man who alleges his wife suffered a life-threatening fungal infection as a result of taking the arthritis drug Humira. Humira is one of the world’s best-selling drugs and is primarily used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The jury found that Abbott Laboratories Inc. and its sister company AbbVie did not properly notify doctors and hospitals of the possible side effects of Humira.
The case was filed by Delores and Milton Tietz of North Dakota. Their lawsuit alleged that Delores took Humira for rheumatoid arthritis from October 2009 through May 2010, when she developed flu-like symptoms. She was eventually diagnosed with disseminated histoplasmosis, a severe infection that can be fatal if untreated.
The lawsuit alleged that the FDA had issued a directive in 2008 instructing drug companies to notify doctors and hospitals that TNF inhibitors such as Humira carried the risk of fungal infections. The Tietzes alleged that Abbott waited almost two years to send out a “Dear Doctor” letter. The trial focused on the 20 months that elapsed between the FDA directive and Abbott’s notification to physicians. The suit alleged that if Abbott had timely notified doctors in accordance with the FDA directive then Delores Tietz’s doctors would have diagnosed her disseminated histoplasmosis earlier.
Most of the other failure-to-warn cases over Humira have been consolidated in Cook County, Illinois Circuit Court, but there is also litigation in federal court in Massachusetts, Texas and Tennessee.
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