Arthritis affects millions of people, and while there are powerful drugs available to treat this condition, these drugs also come with unwanted side effects that can cause serious and even fatal conditions. When the Food and Drug Administration approved Actemra in 2010, it did not require Roche Pharmaceuticals to add a warning about possible heart problems, despite the fact that this risk existed. So, many doctors did not screen Actemra patients for these issues and did not follow them closely. This situation has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and serious injuries.
The compassionate attorneys at Napoli Law understand the physical consequences of a dangerous drug like Actemra as well as its emotional consequences. Victims experience serious side effects, and their expectations of an effective anti-arthritis drug with fewer side effects have been cruelly dashed by a company more interested in making money than in making people better. When you feel like your life is spiralling out of control and no one cares, we firmly stand with you.
Actemra is a powerful anti-inflammatory drug that is intravenously injected directly into the patient’s bloodstream, thus magnifying the drug’s intense strength. Since Actemra blocks a key blood protein, it is most widely prescribed for patients who have moderate to severe arthritis, especially those individuals who struggle with Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA), a blood vessel disease which thickens the arteries, and Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (PJIA), which is one of the most common forms of arthritis among children.
Tocilizumab is usually a “last resort” drug after all other treatment regimens have either altogether failed or have not yielded the results that doctor and patient expected. Most patients undergo at least one or two injections a month.
With annual sales of over $1.6 billion, Actemra is one of Roche’s highest-grossing drugs.
Actemra Side Effects
Before administering Actemra, nearly all doctors carefully screen patients for signs of infection and possible medicine allergies. But because Roche did not include warnings about possible heart disease, most doctors do not probe this area, since they rely on the manufacturer and they do not want to unnecessarily alarm their patients.
Yet the FDA has logged over 1,100 Actemra-related fatal incidents, and most of them are related to blood or heart problems. The agency has been slow to act, citing a lack of evidence. But most probably, the real reason is that government bureaucrats do not want to admit that they mistakenly approved a dangerous drug and they do not want to take a lucrative product like Actemra off the market, since so much of the FDA’s budget comes from taxes and fees on drug sales.
Some of the most serious Actemra side effects include:
- Heart Disease: Arthritis sufferers already have greatly elevated risks in this area, mostly because inflammation of any kind is a significant cardiac health risk factor and many people with arthritis are also diabetic, hypertensive, and/or overweight. Furthermore, Tocilizumab significantly elevates cholesterol levels, increasing the risk even further.
- Pancreatitis: Hypertensive women over 60 who also take, or have taken, Methotrexate are at the highest risk for this extremely serious disease. An inflamed pancreas often leads to kidney failure, severe infection, malnutrition, breathing problems, and pancreatic cancer.
- Interstitial Lung Disease: While pancreatitis and cardiac issues usually appear within the first few months of Actemra use, ILD occurs after long term exposure to the drug. Arthritis itself is also a risk factor, and since many Actemra patients have already suffered from moderate or severe arthritis for quite some time as explained earlier, Tocilizumab may be like the straw that broke the camel’s back. ILD is similar to asbestosis, because both conditions lead to excessive scar tissue buildup in the lungs.
Other possible serious side effects include gastrointestinal perforation (a hole in the stomach) and hypertriglyceridemia (extremely high triglyceride levels).
Actemra Damage Claims
In dangerous drug cases, a failure to warn triggers strict liability, which means the manufacturer (Roche in this case) is responsible for damages as a matter of law, regardless of any actual negligence or wrongdoing.
Typically, the only real issue is whether the risk was obvious or unpredictable. While matchbooks do not need to carry warnings that they could start fires, ingestible drugs should publicize all possible risks, because ordinary consumers have no way of knowing these risks, especially if their doctors relied on misleading information.
To build a case, Napoli Law attorneys partner with top experts who can explain the relationship between Actemra and the victim/plaintiff’s damages. While some states have very restrictive rules concerning expert witnesses, in other states, most non-fact witnesses can share their conclusions with the jury if they meet certain minimum qualifications.
Successful victim/plaintiffs are entitled to compensation for their medical bills and other economic damages, along with their emotional distress and other noneconomic damages. Additionally, dangerous drug juries often award significant punitive damages.
Reach Out to Assertive Lawyers
Actemra has injured thousands of people who had no idea that the drug was dangerous. For a free consultation with an experienced pharmaceutical litigation attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.