Drugmaker Genentech is pulling the prescription psoriasis medication Raptiva (efalizumab) from the U.S. market, in what is being called a "voluntary, phased withdrawal of the product" by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Today's action is being taken because of a risk that Raptiva patients may develop a serious, often fatal neurological disease called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), which is caused by a virus that affects the central nervous system.
According to the FDA, health care professionals are being asked not to start any new Raptiva treatments for patients, and for psoriasis patients already using Raptiva, alternative treatments should be explored and prescribed as soon as possible.
Reuters reports: "[Genentech] said Raptiva will not be available after June 8 and estimated that around 2,000 U.S. patients may be receiving the drug for chronic plaque psoriasis." And according to the Wall Street Journal, today's announcement of Raptiva's withdrawal "follows a February warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of the drug's dangers and the recommendation of Europe's main medical regulator that Raptiva be withdrawn from the European market."