If you think drugs approved by the FDA can’t kill you, think again. A recent article in Stat News explains that Actemra, a rheumatoid arthritis drug, has dangerous side effects, possibly killing hundreds of patients who took it. But, the FDA warning label made no mention of its risks of stroke, heart and lung disease, or pancreatitis. And, the FDA seems to be incapable of determining the drug’s safety or of acting to warn patients now that the drug shows signs of having dangerous side effects.
Somehow Actemra’s manufacturer, Genentech, a subsidiary of Roche, was able to persuade the FDA that, unlike other treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, Actemra did not have serious side effects. As it turns out, just like other drugs for rheumatoid arthritis, the data suggests that Actemra can cause stroke, heart disease, heart attack, lung disease and pancreatitis.In fact Stat, which studied more than 500,000 reports of Actemra’s side effects, found that patients taking Actemra may be more likely to suffer a heart attack or a stroke than patients taking a competitor drug. Stat further reports that the FDA has been notified of 1,128 people taking Actemra who subsequently died.