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Psoriasis drug suspended by regulators over patient safety concerns

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A drug used to treat psoriasis has been suspended by the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) following the deaths of two patients.

Three patients developed multifocal leukoencephalopathy, a disorder of the central nervous system, and other serious side effects after use of the drug, Raptiva (efalizubmab), for over three years. Two of these patients died.

The EMEA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use said the risks of using the drug for treatment of patients with moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis outweigh its benefits.

Prescribers should review the treatment of all patients currently taking the drug with a view to stopping treatment and should not issue any new prescriptions.

Efalizubmab’s effects on the immune system can last for about 8-12 weeks so specialist dermatology nurses should monitor patients for infections and neurological symptoms during this time, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has advised.

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