Research shows the immunosuppressant drug etanercept—sold under the brand name Enbrel—increases the risk of infection by the bacteria Legionella and Listeria.
The Rottenstein Law Group compassionately advocates for those who have suffered side effects as a result of having taken dangerous drugs. If you’ve taken Enbrel and believe it left you vulnerable to a bacterial infection, contact RLG for a free, confidential legal consultation immediately. We will evaluate your case and remain on the lookout for Enbrel recalls and Enbrel class action lawsuits. We might be the Enbrel law firm you are looking for.
What Is Enbrel and What Is It Prescribed For?
Enbrel is the brand name for the drug etanercept. Pfizer and Amgen co-market Enbrel in the United States, while Takeda Pharmaceuticals sells it in Japan, and Wyeth, a Pfizer subsidiary, sells it everywhere else.
Enbrel is used to treat several autoimmune conditions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved the drug in November 1998, and doctors prescribe it for rheumatoid arthritis (with methotrexate), polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, and plaque psoriasis. Enbrel comes in 25 mg vials that are meant to be injected subcutaneously, and in 50 mg/mL injections.
A member of the Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha blocker (TNF-alpha blocker) class of immunosuppressant drugs, Enbrel works by preventing TNF-alpha from attaching itself to immune cells. (When TNF-alpha attaches to immune cells it can cause tissue inflammation that can lead to autoimmune diseases.)
Because TNF-alpha blockers reduce the immune system’s ability to fight infections, they render the body vulnerable to potentially fatal infections by opportunistic organisms that attack multiple organ systems at once.
Enbrel Might Leave Users Vulnerable to Legionnaires’ Disease and Listeriosis
In September 2011, the FDA issued an Enbrel warning in the form of a Drug Safety Communication stating that Enbrel, along with other TNF-alpha blockers, increases the risk of infection by the bacteria Legionella and Listeria. The agency updated the drug’s label information to include a “black box” warning to reflect these developments. A black box warning is the FDA’s most serious alert.
Legionella bacteria are named for their eponymous outbreak at a convention of the American Legion in a hotel in 1976. Members at the convention came down with a fatal pneumonia, which physicians named “Legionnaires’ disease.” They traced the source of the outbreak to bacteria in the hotel’s damp air conditioning system. These are the symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease:
- Dry cough;
- Muscle aches;
- Loss of appetite;
- Loss of coordination;
- Impaired cognition;
- Low heart rate despite fever;
- Renal, liver, and electrolyte disorder; and
Legionella infection can also cause a weaker disease called Pontiac fever.
According to the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System, between 1999 and 2010, 80 patients developed Legionella infections after using a TNF-alpha blocker. Most were using the drug for rheumatoid arthritis. Many of the 80 patients were also taking methotrexate, corticosteroids, or both with Enbrel. Fourteen of the 80 patients died.
The Listeria genus of bacteria is named after the British scientist and developer of antiseptics, Joseph Lister. Listeria infections, called “listeriosis,” last seven to ten days and have the following symptoms:
- Muscle aches;
- Diarrhea (less common); and
- Meningitis (if the infection spreads to the nervous system).
The disease mostly affects newborns, the elderly, and pregnant women. The listeria bacteria mainly enter through contaminated food products, particularly tainted dairy ones.
The FDA identified 26 cases in English language medical publications of TNF-alpha blocker users coming down with listerioris. These infections resulted in meningitis, bacteremia, endophthalmitis, and sepsis. As with the Legionella-infected patients, many Listeria-infected patients were also using other immunosuppressive drugs. Seven patients died of their infections.
RLG’s Lawyers Will Make Things Easier
The process of demanding compensation for the harm you’ve suffered can be complicated, even if it doesn’t seem fair that you should have to go through even more trouble to be made whole again.
The lawyers at the Rottenstein Law Group believe that obtaining legal satisfaction from those who harmed you shouldn’t require more hardship. That’s why we do everything we can to streamline the process, and we will file an Enbrel lawsuit on your behalf if necessary. RLG will also keep you up to date on any Enbrel class action lawsuits, FDA Enbrel warnings, and Enbrel FDA recall announcements.
If you have taken Enbrel and believe it harmed you, contact RLG today.