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From Products Liability Law Daily, May 10, 2013

Jury Verdict of $2.2 Million Entered Against Maker of Humira

By Pamela C. Maloney, J.D.

A jury in Cook County, Illinois, entered a verdict in the amount of $2,244,063.20 in favor of a patient who developed disseminated histoplasmosis, a severe, life threatening infection as a result of ingesting the drug, as prescribed, to treat rheumatoid arthritis. (Tietz v. Abbott Labs, May 9, 2013, Haddad, W.). The jury determined that the manufacturer was negligent for not taking reasonable measures to make sure that physicians were informed of the risks of histoplasmosis associated with the drug.

Background. According to a press release issued by the firm representing the plaintiffs, Delores Tietz had been prescribed Humira, a TNF blocker manufactured by Abbott Laboratories, to treat her rheumatoid arthritis. She took the drug for almost seven months when she began to experiencing chest pains and fevers. Her illness went undiagnosed for weeks and she nearly died. Finally her doctors diagnosed her with Humira-induced disseminated histoplasmosis.

Duty to warn. According to the press release, the Food and Drug Administration issued an alert in September 2008 to all manufacturers of TNF blockers, including Abbott Laboratories, to provide new information to the medical community about the risks of unrecognized, drug-induced histoplasmosis. Abbott failed to send a letter directly to physicians warning of the danger until May 17, 2010, 20 months after the initial FDA alert and 10 days after Mrs. Tietz was hospitalized. The jury found that Abbott’s failure to take reasonable measures to alert physicians to the risk of its TNF blocker constituted negligence. This verdict represents the first Humira lawsuit against Abbott to go trial.

The case number is: 12 L 2715.

Attorneys: Jim M. Perdue, Jr. (Perdue Kidd & Vickery) for The Tietzes; Kirkland & Ellis Llp for Abbott Labs.

Companies: Abbott Labs

MainStory: TopStory WarningsNews DrugsNews IllinoisNews

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