A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against Ireland’s Elan Corporation and US partner, Biogen Idec, as a result of the withdrawal of their highly touted multiple sclerosis offering, Tysabri (natalizumab) [[01/03/05a]].

The suit was filed on behalf of the family of Anita Smith who was taking part in a clinical trial studying the use of Tysabri in combination with another MS drug from Biogen Idec, Avonex (interferon beta-1a), which has been on the market for almost ten years. Mrs Smith died from progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, or PML, the rare and potentially fatal nervous system disorder that was behind the drug’s suspension.

“Before Tysabri was approved, its manufacturers were aware that the drug’s use, in combination therapy with Avonex, was dangerous,” commented Jerrold Parker of law firm Parker & Waichman. “This blatant disregard for patient safety caused tremendous suffering for Mrs Smith and her family. It certainly appears that combination therapy was proposed by Biogen in an effort to maintain the relevance of Avonex in the marketplace following Tysabri’s introduction.”