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Man Blames Drug Combo for Leukemia

CHICAGO (CN) - A man claims his leukemia was caused by two drugs for inflammatory bowel disease, and that he was not warned that the drug combination significantly raised the risk of the blood cancer.

Joseph and Renee Philips sued the University of Chicago Hospitals, Medical Specialist Inc. dba Ambulatory Infusion Center, Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Biotech, Centocor and GlaxoSmithKline in Cook County Court.

Joseph Philips says he was "prescribed Remicade and Imuran by his University of Chicago physician, Dr. Stephen Hanauer, for his ulcerative colitis," aka irritable bowl syndrome. Dr. Hanauer is not a party to the complaint.

Remicade and Imuran are prescribed for ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, and other autoimmune diseases. They work by suppressing the immune system's response.

"Plaintiff, Joseph Philipps, was infused with Remicade and Imuran in 2005 at the infusion center at U of C as well as at AIC [Ambulatory Infusion Center]," the complaint states.

"On November 17, 2010, plaintiff, Joseph Philipps, was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia.

"Plaintiffs did not know of the product liability causes of action against these defendants until plaintiff, Joseph Philipps, was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia on November 17, 2010."

The complaint adds: "Despite the fact that J&J, and/or its subsidiaries such as Janssen and Centocor, knew of the significant potential for the development of blood cancer and/or leukemia in patients taking Remicade in combination with other medications for ulcerative colitis, defendant, J&J, and/or its subsidiaries such as Janssen and Centocor, failed to timely and adequately warn physicians in the United States who prescribed Remicade about this significant risk to adult patients taking Remicade."

PubMed Health, a website run by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, now warns consumers that some young men who took Imuran with a tumor necrosis factor blocker for Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, such as Remicade, developed lymphoma. On the entry for Imuran, the website states: "Azathioprine [brand name, Imuran] has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, but doctors may sometimes prescribe azathioprine to treat these conditions."

Philips seeks damages for strict product liability, breach of express and implied warranty, negligence, and loss of consortium.

He is represented by Francis Morrissey with Burke, Wise, Morrissey & Kaveny.

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