Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML)

November 23, 2010

PML is a rare disorder that damages the material that covers and protects the nerves in the white matter of the brain. It is caused by the reactivation of the JC virus in the body and it infects the brain. JC virus is commonly acquired in childhood, but most people do not develop PML. The virus usually remains inactive and hardly ever causes symptoms-unless you have a significantly weakened immune system. People who have received Tysabri infusions, have AIDS, leukemia or lymphoma typically have a compromised immune system.

PML and Tysabri

Tysabri (Natalizumab) is a drug manufactured by Biogen Idec Inc. and Elan Corp. It is used to treat the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Crohn’s disease, a gastrointestinal disorder. It is normally used after other treatments have not worked; it is not a cure, but a treatment. Tysabri is an immunosuppressant infusion that is used to help control the symptoms of relapsing MS (when the symptoms get worse then improve, and get worse again.) The use of Tysabri has been linked to PML (Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy), a rare but life threatening brain infection. The longer Tysabri is used, the more likely the risk of contracting PML.

Symptoms of PML

There is no “usual” course of PML, the area of the brain that is affected will determine how PML symptoms will appear. The symptoms can be similar to those of MS, and worsen rapidly. Some of the symptoms may include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Slurred speech, or loss of speech (aphasia)
  • Memory Loss, confusion, disoriented
  • Vision Problems that cause blurred vision or loss of vision
  • Weakness or paralysis of one side of the body
  • Tiredness
  • Seizures

PML Diagnosis

The most accurate way to diagnose PML is by a brain biopsy. But, most brain specialists can diagnose PML by the patient’s clinical symptoms along with a MRI scan, and testing the Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for the JC virus. If PML is suspected the Tysabri should be stopped immediately and a clinical evaluation should be performed.

PML Treatment

There is no known cure for PML that is caused by Tysabri. In some cases, the disease may slow or stop once the medication is discontinued, but only if the patient’s immune system improves. The experimental drug treatments used for PML caused by Tysabri have not been very effective. PML is usually fatal and those who do survive the disease are often permanently disabled. Tysabri is intended to help those who suffer from MS or Crohn’s disease that other treatments have been unable to help, but in fact it may actually be fatal instead.

Tysabri PML Lawyer

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with PML, or been treated with Tysabri infusions, contact our law firm to speak to a PML lawyer about your legal options. Every attorney at our law firm is dedicated to fighting for the rights of those that have been harmed by dangerous and recalled drugs and medical devices. For over 25 years, Attorney David Willis has been a trial lawyer representing seriously injured clients in product liability and personal injury lawsuits such as defective drug litigation, class action drug lawsuits and medical device recall lawsuits. If Tysabri has harmed you, or a loved one, contact us right now to discuss your potential case in filing a Tysabri PML Lawsuit with an Attorney.

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