Brain infections linked to lymphoma drug highlight need for oversight: study
Globe and Mail May 29, 2009
A 39-year-old Texan with chronic leukemia suddenly began mixing up his words. Next, he stumbled over basic math equations, and had trouble reading. A biopsy revealed he had a brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalitis (PML) which attacks the brain’s white matter, eating away at it…
They are two of 57 patients on the drug who became ill with PML, reported in a new study by Charles Bennett, a hematologist and oncologist at NORTHWESTERN University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. In 93 per cent of the cases, which took place from 1998 to 2008 in the United States and Europe, the patients died within two months of being diagnosed with PML. The study was published in a recent issue of Blood, a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal.
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It is not yet known how the medication is linked to the unusual brain infec-tion, or why certain patients may be more at risk. But the issue raises grave concerns for Dr. Bennett, who specializes in drug safety issues and runs RADAR (Research on Adverse Drug Events and Reports)…