Jury Awards $2.2 Million in First Humira Infection Case Trial

An Illinois jury has awarded $2,244,063 to the husband of a woman who suffered a life threatening fungal infection after taking the rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira.  Humira is a best-selling drug used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

The jury in the Cook County Circuit Court awarded the verdict to Milton Tietz of North Dakota. The jury found Abbott Laboratories Inc. and its sister company AbbVie Inc. liable for not taking reasonable measures to make sure Delores Tietz’s doctors had a “high index of suspicion for histoplasmosis,” a fungal lung infection from which Delores suffered and for not notifying doctors and hospitals of the possible side effects of Humira.

This is the first Humira case to go to trial. Delores Tietz was prescribed Humira, a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blocker, in October 2009 and took the drug for approximately seven months, at which time she developed fever and chest pain.

Several weeks later she was diagnosed with disseminated histoplasmosis, a severe infection, which can be fatal if untreated.

Delores Tietz sued Humira manufacturer Abbott Laboratories (now AbbVie Inc.) in 2012, alleging that it negligently failed to warn her or her doctor of the risk of histoplasmosis infection.

In September 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) instructed all drug manufacturers to notify physicians and hospitals that TNF blockers, such as Humira, carried the potential risk of fungal infections and to provide new information about the risk of unrecognized, drug-induced histoplasmosis. Humira acts as an immunosuppressant in autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Mr. Tietz alleged that Abbott waited nearly two years to send out a “Dear Doctor” letter. The focus of the trial was based on the 20 months’ time lapse between the FDA’s directive and Abbott’s notification to doctors. The lawsuit contends that if Abbott had notified doctors in a timely fashion and in accordance with the FDA directive, Delores Tietz’s physicians would have made the diagnosis of histoplasmosis earlier.

Delores Tietz died in March 2013. Her husband, Milton Tietz, was named as her personal representative in the lawsuit.

Contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys for more information at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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