Genentech withdrew its psoriasis drug Raptiva from the market yesterday, citing the risk of developing progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a rare, often fatal brain infection. The drug will be phased out by June 8 of this year, according to a statement by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The decision comes after Genentech reported a fourth case of PML diagnosed in a 47 year old man in Germany in February, and a subsequent warning by the FDA. Three other people taking Raptiva have developed PML, two of whom died. Raptiva is an antibody therapy that reduces psoriasis flare-ups by suppressing T-cells. Sales of the drug were $108 million in 2008, and about 2,000 people are currently taking it, according to a statement by Genentech. The withdrawal won't hurt Genentech's bottom line much, said Simos Simeonidis, a senior biotechnology analyst and director at Rodman & Renshaw, LLC. "It was not...

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