Humira facing lawsuit regarding optic nerve damage

Humira, the major arthritis and Crohn’s disease drug from Abbott Laboratories, is facing litigation over a woman who’s alleging that vision problems and optic nerve damage have developed as a result of using the drug.

The use of Humira is alleged to have caused optic neuritis, which is an inflammation within the optic nerve. Because of this inflammation, there is the possibility of impairment to vision and other nerve issues, including more vision loss or multiple sclerosis.

Humira has been used as a biologic, or tumor blocking drug. Released by Abbott Laboratories in 2003 as an arthritis treatment, Humira has gone on to be approved for a number of other medical conditions. Major use has increased for treatment of Crohn’s Disease in recent years.

The New York woman complained that Abbott Laboratories dismissed any notion or risk of vision issues as a relation to their product. This came, even despite information that the drug could increase risks of nerve damage and optic neuritis.

After only a month using Humira in 2008, the woman began experiencing repeated headaches and pain in her eye. She then called the phone number that came along with Humira in the chance of any problems. The nurse on the Abbot hotline continued to say that the headaches and pain were in no way related to the use of Humira, suggesting she speak to another physician.

After experiencing bouts with blurry vision and black spots, the woman sought immediate emergency medical attention. Doctors found that there was optic neuritis from Humira in both eyes. Without the proper warning, the woman suffered long term vision impairment.

The case is largely based on the notion that as the manufacturer, Abbott should’ve been aware of the risks involved with Humira when the drug began to be marketed in 2007. Studies back to that time have detailed deterioration within the optic nerves involving both Remicade and Enbrel, two similar and competing drugs with Humira.

An important factor in the case is the fact that competing drugs in the same class as Humira show specific warnings of optic nerve damage with repeated use. Abbott is already the subject of multiple other cases of litigation involving lymphoma and nerve damage. In all other cases involving Abbott, both punitive and economic damages are being sought.