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Drugs & Devices > Raptiva

Raptiva (Generic: Efalizumab) is an immunosuppressant. Immunosuppressants reduce the actions of the body’s immune system. Raptiva is normally used in the treatment of psoriasis. Raptiva is an injectable drug and was approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 2003 to treat moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.

Raptiva works by blocking the activation of some immune cells known as T cells, and the migration of those cells into the skin. By preventing T-cell activation and the movement of these cells into the skin, Raptiva disrupts the cycle of psoriasis.

Side Effects

Severe, even deadly, infections have been reported to take place during treatment with Raptiva. Contact your physician immediately if you develop signs of infection such as:

  • fever or chills;
  • sore throat, coughing, congestion or other signs of infection;
  • redness, pain, or swelling of a skin wound; or burning or difficult urination.

Treatment with Raptiva can increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer such as lymphoma. Ask your physician regarding the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

Raptiva can cause a reduced number of platelets in the blood, which might result in bleeding. Contact your physician right away if you develop symptoms of low platelets (such as abnormal bruising or bleeding, easy bleeding from the gums, nosebleeds, pinpoint red spots under the skin, or black, bloody or tarry stools.

The use of Raptiva has also been connected to new or worsening cases of psoriasis. You must contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible if you develop a rash, skin condition, or worsening psoriasis during treatment with this drug.

In 2005, the FDA issued a new warning on the Genentech psoriasis drug Raptiva following reports of four cases of hemolytic anemia that were diagnosed four to six months after patients started using the drug. According to the FDA, two of the cases took place during clinical trials of Raptiva, and the other two were reported as post-marketing events.

Important things to discuss with your doctor

Before using Raptiva, tell your health care provider if you

  • have any viral, bacterial, or fungal infection;
  • are receiving phototherapy;
  • have a suppressed immune system or take drugs that may suppress the immune system (for example, medicines to stop rejection of a transplanted organ, some cancer medications, etc.)

If you have any of these conditions, you may not be suggested to use Raptiva, or you may need a dosage adjustment.

Raptiva is in the FDA pregnancy category C, which means that it is unknown whether this drug is dangerous to an unborn baby. If you are pregnant or planning to be pregnant during treatment, you must inform your health care provider.

It is also not known if this drug passes into breast milk. Therefore, you must talk to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Breaking News

Raptiva may Cause Deadly Brain Disease
A 70-year-old man who was being treated for psoriasis for more than four years using Raptiva has developed a rare brain infection called Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML)... Read More

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