In 1982, Accutane (isotretinoin) was released in the U.S. market and hailed as a “miracle drug” for people dealing with severe acne. More than 13 million people worldwide received prescriptions for Accutane from its launch until 2009, the year Roche Pharmaceuticals, the drug’s manufacturer, discontinued the drug.
Accutane users continue to report that they experienced severe side effects from taking the drug. Many of these former Accutane users and their families filed lawsuits against Roche seeking damages.
Why Do People File Lawsuits Against the Manufacturer of Accutane?
Thousands of people who took Accutane claim Roche did not give provide adequate warnings about the possibility of dangerous side effects from the drug. Patients who endured serious side effects of after using Accutane registered claims against Roche to receive compensation for hospital expenses, outpatient treatments, lost wages and pain and suffering.
Roche appears to have the ability to compensate these acne sufferers should it need to. According to a 2002 report from Harvard Law School, sales of Accutane averaged around $700 million a year for Roche. In 2000, annual sales totaled more than $759 million, accounting for 8 percent of all prescription drug sales.
More than 5 million Americans received prescriptions for Accutane, making it a powerful revenue generator for Roche. Meanwhile, an increased number of people reported severe side effects taking the drug. Among the side effects: birth defects, intestinal disorders, depression and thoughts of suicide.
Although Roche stopped making Accutane, it did not list concerns over the drug’s side effects as a reason. However, the company also set aside millions of dollars to deal with the thousands of lawsuits. Many of those who are filing these lawsuits not only want recompense for their pain and suffering but also an admission from Roche on why it issued the recall.
What Are Your Legal Options?
Former Accutane users who have suffered should seek out legal assistance in filing claims against Roche. Patients can use this assistance to obtain information about how they can be compensated for their medical expenses, job losses, financial hardships and physical and psychological suffering.
Former Accutane users have won claims against Roche, recovering expenses as well as compensatory and punitive damages. In fact, in nine of the 13 lawsuits filed against Roche since 2007, the former Accutane users won sizable verdicts. Andrew McCarrell, a computer technician from Birmingham, Alabama, sued Roche after he developed inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) after using Accutane. McCarrell underwent five surgeries, including the removal of his colon. In February 2010, a New Jersey jury awarded McCarrell $159,000 in medical expenses and $25 million in compensatory damages.
How Do I File an Accutane Lawsuit?
An experienced attorney can guide a plaintiff through the process of filing an Accutane lawsuit. These patients will often be asked to provide information on their medical histories, including when they started taking Accutane, when they stopped, and documentation on the side effects they experienced during and after taking the medication.
Your attorney also may ask if the patient followed all dosage instructions, how long the medication was taken, and when the onset of the side effects occurred. Your attorney then will determine if the situation merits a lawsuit, and will prepare the claim to give the plaintiff the best opportunity to win a verdict and recover damages.
If your situation has sufficient merit, the attorney will file the lawsuit and prepare for trial. In some instances, the case will go to trial and the attorney will argue for the plaintiff in pursuit of damages. In other instances, the company may choose to settle out of court to avoid legal fees and unfavorable publicity.
What Conditions Prompted Accutane Lawsuits?
A number of former Accutane users reported that their side effects from taking the drug were mild to severe, and some disappeared after the patients stopped taking the drug. The more severe side effects continued or worsened even after Accutane use was halted. Among the more severe reported side effects were Crohn’s disease, miscarriages and birth defects, and suicidal thoughts.
Crohn’s disease (also called regional enteritis) is a form of IBD that can arise at any point along the gastrointestinal tract. The disease affects the lower layers of the intestinal lining and can show up as lesions between areas of healthy tissue. Crohn’s often affects either the small intestine or the colon, or both.
Miscarriage and Birth Defects
Numerous reports have surfaced about pregnant women who have taken or handled Accutane who have given birth to a child with severe birth defects. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises women of childbearing age who were taking Accutane not to get pregnant. The agency’s iPLEDGE brochure warns women that the drug can cause “birth defects (deformed babies), loss of a baby before birth (miscarriage), death of the baby, and early (premature) births.”
Depression and Suicide
The FDA called for an additional warning on Accutane in 1998, advising users that the drug could lead to depression and suicidal tendencies. The FDA also examined the link between Accutane and increased incidence of depression or thoughts of suicide. Between Accutane’s debut in 1982 and 2000, the FDA received reports of 431 cases of depression, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts or suicide in patients treated with Accutane; twenty-four committed suicide while taking the drug, and another 13 ended their lives after quitting the drug.
Patients who are experiencing any of these side effects should consult an experienced attorney who understands how to win an Accutane lawsuit.