Mandan News

Family awarded over $2 million in drug lawsuit

A Mandan family was awarded $2.24 million on May 9 in a lawsuit against drug company AbbVie, the maker of the drug Humira.

The jury’s verdict favored Delores Tietz, who used Humira in October 2009 for almost seven months for her rheumatoid arthritis. She was later diagnosed with a life-threatening fungal infection, histoplasmosis, which has been proven to be an effect of Humira use.

As a result of the Humira use, Tietz began experience chest pain and fever, and was taken to a hospital in May 2010. Her condition worsened as her organs began failing, and she fell into a coma.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an alert in September 2008 to manufacturers of drugs like Humira to provide new information to doctors about the risks of histoplasmosis.

Abbott Laboratories, the original makers of Humira before the company split off its research-based pharmaceutical business into the new company AbbVie on Jan. 1, didn’t send a letter directly to treating doctors until May 17, 2010, 10 days after Tietz was hospitalized.

The jury found AbbVie negligent for not taking reasonable measures to make sure doctors were suspicious enough to check for histoplasmosis.

This was the first Humira lawsuit filed against Abbott to go to trial.

Tietz began recovering following the coma in 2010, but had to go through physical and speech therapy. She spent a total of 13 months in the hospital.

In a statement, a spokesperson for AbbVie, Adelle Infante, said the company will plan to appeal.

“Humira has more than 15 years of clinical and safety data, with therapeutic risks well documented in the prescribing label,” the statement said. “We will appeal this verdict based in part on the jury’s assessment that the medical community was sufficiently warned about the risk of histoplasmosis.”

-Brian L. Gray