Arthritis Drug Gets the Red Flag - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

10/8/04

Arthritis Drug Gets the Red Flag

Another warning about an arthritis drug. This time, Remicade is under fire.

Johnson & Johnson says it will formally notify doctors on Monday that patients taking Remicade may have three times the risk of developing lymphoma, a blood cancer. Also, a warning label is about to be added to the drug's package.

Patients have already known that this class of drugs may be linked to an increase in Tuberculosis. In August, Johnson & Johnson warned Remicade can also increase a patient's risk for two other blood disorders. One lowers white blood cell counts, another lowers platlet counts.

This class of drug blocks an inflammation causing protein called tumor necrosis factor. Drugs in the class include Enbrel (made by Amgen) and Humaria (made by Abbott labs) as well as Remicade.

The August warning for Remicade pertained to higher risk for Leukopenia (low white blood cell count) and Thrombocytopenia (low blood platlets). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says use of this class of blocking agent may increase associated cases of Tuberculosis.

12 Californians treated with Remicade or Embrel tested positive for TB, two of which died.

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