Leukemia Drug Tasigna May Pose Dangers to Patients
What is Tasigna?
Tasigna is a drug manufactured by Novartis to treat Philadelphia-positive
chronic myeloid leukemia. Tasigna is considered a second-generation tyrosine
kinase inhibitor drug, replacing first-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors
like Gleevec. In 2015 alone, Gleevec netted Novartis $4.7 billion in global
sales, so it is no surprise why the company wanted to replace Gleevec
as soon as the patent expired.
In 2017, 28 Tasigna capsules sold for $12,104.20 at Wal-Mart, which is
a huge reason for the company to hide known adverse symptoms. Now, despite
the fact that a wrongful death claim has been filed against Novartis for
injuries caused by Tasigna, the company continues to run two large Tasigna
clinical trials on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, hoping to
extend FDA approval.
Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia is a long-term,
treatable form of cancer which can become a chronic disease if the patient
is not treated properly. CML is a disease in which a person’s bone
marrow makes too many white blood cell; nearly 9,000 new cases of CML
will be reported each year in the U.S., and there were more than one thousand
deaths from CML in 2017 alone.
Current Lawsuit Not the First Troubles Facing Tasigna
Prior to the current Tasigna wrongful death claim, Novartis faced misconduct
charges in 2013 after Japanese officials opened an investigation which
showed Novartis failed to include 33 adverse event reports from a clinical
trial of 3,000 subjects which compared different leukemia drug outcomes.
Several high-level employees of Novartis were terminated at that time,
due to the alleged cover-up of safety issues related to Tasigna.
Then in 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a federal lawsuit against
Novartis for illegally marketing Tasigna. Novartis paid the DOJ $390 million
to settle the lawsuit which also charged Novartis of participating in
a kickback scheme, paying pharmacies to push Tasigna prescriptions to
Medicaid and Medicare patients. This particular settlement was the largest
government recovery in history from a False Claims Act violation.
Canadian Officials Were Warned—United States Officials Were Not
Canadian officials were warned about the potential hazards associated with
Tasigna in 2013. At that time, Novartis and Health Canada release a warning
regarding Tasigna’s increased risk of causing patients to develop
atherosclerosis-related complications. Because U.S. officials were not
subsequently warned, the current wrongful death claim cites this as evidence
that Novartis AG intentionally hid side effects from American consumers.
California Wrongful Death Claim
In 2016, the daughter of a patient filed a wrongful death claim on behalf
of her father who died in 2014 of a massive stroke, after his doctor switched
him from Gleevec to Tasigna. He had taken Tasigna for about a year, yet
began developing “severe, accelerated and irreversible” atherosclerosis-related
conditions almost immediately after beginning the drug. His femoral arteries
were 100 percent narrowed, his coronary arteries were 40-60 percent narrowed,
and his cerebral arteries were 70 percent narrowed.
The plaintiff’s father was never warned—nor were his doctors—about
the potential atherosclerosis-related risks, even though Novartis was
well-aware of these risks. In fact, the wrongful death claim asserts Novartis
has been aware that Tasigna could cause serious, even deadly atherosclerosis
issues, yet continued marketing the drug aggressively. Their claim includes
causes of action for strict products liability, negligence and wrongful death.
What is Atherosclerosis?
Atherosclerosis is a disease which causes plaque to build up inside the
arteries. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says that atherosclerosis
can affect any artery in a person’s body. Those arteries can include
arteries to the heart, arteries to the brain, arteries to the arms and
legs, and even arteries to the pelvic region and kidneys. Particularly
in the legs, a lack of blood circulation can lead to serious infections
and tissue damage which can, in turn, cause amputations.
Getting Help for Your Tasigna Injuries
Other serious symptoms associated with Tasigna include: low blood count,
unexplained bleeding or bruising, unexplained weakness, irregular heartbeat,
decreased blood flow, damage to the liver, pancreatitis, brain bleeds,
and Tumor Lysis Syndrome, which can result in kidney failure and the need
for dialysis treatment. If you or a loved one has developed atherosclerosis-related
issues after taking the leukemia drug Tasigna, in addition to seeking
immediate medical help, it could be beneficial for you to speak to an
experienced Tasigna attorney who can help you receive compensation for
To learn more about your legal options or to schedule a free consultation call the
Philadelphia product liability lawyers at Golomb & Honik today at
1-800-355-3300 or 1-215-985-9177 or fill out our confidential
The national dangerous drug lawyers at Golomb & Honik have successfully
represented individuals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and
throughout the United States.