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Sunday, June 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Cancer Suit Going Strong Against Abbott Labs

HOUSTON (CN) - A woman who says she developed lymphoma after taking part in a clinical trial for the rheumatoid arthritis drug, Humira, can proceed with her claims against drugmaker Abbott Laboratories, a federal judge ruled.

Gayathri Murthy says rheumatologist Dr. Jovan Popovich first put her on methotrexate after her arthritis diagnosis in 2004.

Popovich then allegedly informed Murthy of a clinical trial involving the drug adalimumab, distributed as Humira by Abbott. But Murthy says Abbott paid the doctor for his participation in the study.

Though she signed a consent-to-participate document, Murthy claims she was not aware that Humira could cause cancer before she entered the two-month study in February 2005. At the end of the trial, Murthy stayed on the drug.

One year into receiving the drug, Murthy says she discovered she had stage III large b-cell lymphoma, which she attributes to the Humira infusions.

Murthy filed a federal complaint for breach of contract, breach of warranty, strict liability and negligence.

Abbott moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim, but U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison denied the motion Tuesday.

Abbott's argument to dismiss relied in part on the learned intermediary doctrine, which "does not shield Abbott from liability for failure to warn Murthy of Humira's adverse effects," according to the 35-page order.

"First, Abbott directly marketed to Murthy by creating a promotional video," Ellison explained, citing Murthy's complaint. "Second, Murthy's doctor was compensated by Abbott."

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