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Tysabri patient with brain infection dies

Bloomberg News / December 19, 2008
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NEW YORK - Biogen Idec Inc. said an American patient who developed a severe brain infection after taking its multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri has died.

The patient's death was reported to Cambridge, Mass.-based Biogen Wednesday, , said company spokeswoman Naomi Aoki. Biogen reported on Oct. 29 that the patient had been diagnosed with the brain illness, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, or PML.

Biogen and its marketing partner, Irish drug maker Elan Corp., pulled Tysabri from the market in February 2005 after three patients, two of whom died, contracted the illness. Four cases have been reported since the drug was reintroduced in the United States in 2006.

The patient had received 14 Tysabri infusions before becoming ill, Biogen reported in a regulatory filing in October.

Aoki declined to comment on the type of treatment the patient received.

PML is included in Tysabri's prescribing information as a possible side effect in 1 of every 1,000 patients taking the drug. The condition occurs when the virus evades the body's immune defenses and penetrates the brain, causing irreversible damage.

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