Claims Tying Humira to Cancer Pared by Judge

     HOUSTON (CN) – A woman who says she developed lymphoma from the Humira she took for arthritis can advance just one claim against drugmaker Abbot Laboratories, a federal judge ruled, throwing out an earlier order.



     Diagnosed with arthritis in 2004, Gayathri Murthy says rheumatologist Dr. Jovan Popovich first put her on methotrexate.
     But Popovich then allegedly informed Murthy of a clinical trial involving the drug adalimumab, distributed as Humira by Abbott. Murthy says Abbott paid the doctor for his participation in the study.
     Murthy signed a consent-to-participate document, but says she did not receive proper warning 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 Humira treatment, Murthy says she discovered she had stage III large B-cell lymphoma, which she attributes to the Humira infusions.
     Murthy filed a federal complaint in the Southern District of Texas last year.
     Abbott moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim, but U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison denied the motion in November. Ellison withdrew that decision Tuesday, saying Murthy can advance only the claim for breach of contract relating to the consent-to-participate agreement.
     In light of a recent 5th Circuit ruling, however, Ellison said he had to nix Murthy’s claims for negligence, breach of warranty and strict liability. These claims largely hinged on whether Abbott failed to warn Murthy about Humira side effects.
     Murthy claimed that her claims met the standard to an exception of Texas tort-reform law. But the New Orleans-based federal appeals court ruled just two weeks ago, with Lofton v. McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals, that federal law pre-empts the statute “unless the FDA itself finds fraud.”

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