Thursday, March 17, 2005

More M.S. Drug Woes: Avonex and 683699

Biogen and F.D.A. Issue Drug Warning
By ANDREW POLLACK
The New York Times
Published: March 17, 2005

Biogen Idec's multiple sclerosis drug Avonex might cause severe liver damage in rare cases, the company and the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday.

The warning was another blow, though probably only a glancing one, to Biogen, which is already reeling from the halt in sales of its other multiple sclerosis drug, Tysabri, which was linked to a rare brain infection.

In a related development, GlaxoSmithKline said yesterday that the F.D.A. had ordered it to halt a trial of its multiple sclerosis drug, which works in a similar way as Tysabri.

A Glaxo spokesman said the company understood that a halt was made as a precaution in trials of all drugs in the same class as Tysabri. A spokeswoman for the F.D.A. said the agency could not comment because of confidentiality about clinical trials.

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