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Accutane Lawsuits: Paying the Price for Clear Skin

Every year, countless consumers suffer injuries related to prescription drug use. Despite potentially damaging side effects as well as manufacturing and design defects, drug manufacturers still heavily market these potentially harmful drugs.

In 1997, the popular diet drug fen-phen was removed from the market after the FDA announced the drug caused heart valve defects in up to a third of patients. Those who joined lawsuits against Wyeth, the manufacturer of fen-phen, were awarded billions of dollars in damages.

Despite a 2009 recall of the acne drug Accutane, its serious side effects have already afflicted thousands of people throughout the United States. Fortunately, many injured people have successfully recovered from Accutane's manufacturer through product liability lawsuits.

Cancer Drug Turned Acne Medication

Accutane is a prescription medication developed in the 1980s to treat severe cases of acne. Originally created as a chemotherapy drug, Accutane's manufacturer (Roche Holding AG) discovered its success in curing acne and thereafter began marketing the drug to doctors nationwide. Although intended for the most acute acne cases, Accutane soon became a leading treatment prescribed for even mild forms of acne.

Accutane's Dangerous Side Effects

Accutane is a source of relief for many acne sufferers. However, despite this acne breakthrough, Accutane carries with it numerous side effects, including:

  • Hearing and vision damage
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cardiovascular injuries
  • Severe birth defects
  • Early closure of growth plates
  • Lupus
  • Suicidal thoughts and behavior

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)-a condition affecting the intestines that manifests itself primarily in the forms of Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis (UC)-is Accutane's most widespread side effect. IBD symptoms include stomach pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding. Intestinal blockage due to thickened intestinal walls is the most common.

The Crohn's Disease form of IBD can also create sores that push through the intestines to areas such as the bladder, vagina, and skin. These sores often become infected and at times require surgery.

Regardless of the form, IBD can cause significant discomfort, inconvenience, and the need for expensive medical treatment.

The Recall

On June 26, 2009, after Roche Holding AG paid out approximately $20 million in personal injury lawsuits from Accutane, the company finally instituted an Accutane drug recall both in the United State and 11 other countries. Roche Holding AG claimed the recall was a business decision and not because of safety reasons.

Over 13 million people took Accutane since it became available in 1982, however, the number of people negatively affected by the acne drug is indeterminable.

The Lawsuits Begin

Individuals and families throughout the nation are flooding the courts with claims based on Accutane's serious side effects. While there is currently no national Accutane class action lawsuit, injured people are finding success through both jury verdicts and out of court settlements.

Recent jury awards in cases based on IBD caused by Accutane include:

  • $2.6 million to an Alabama plaintiff in May 2007
  • $7 million to a Florida plaintiff in October 2007
  • $10.5 million to an Utah plaintiff in April 2008
  • $13 million total to three Florida plaintiffs in November 2009
  • $25 million to another Alabama plaintiff in February 2010

In March 2010, Roche also settled with an Illinois man for an undisclosed amount for his Accutane related IBD.

Accutane lawsuits claim Roche was negligent, failed to responsibly create and sell Accutane, failed to conduct proper testing, and failed to adequate warn consumers of the drug's serious side effects, especially IBD.

The Lawsuits Continue

Roche Holding AG has been ordered to pay nearly $40 million in damages due to the drug's negative side effects. Additionally, the company has paid unknown settlement amounts outside of court.

Approximately 1,000 pending Accutane lawsuits and an estimated 5,000 claims are still pending. With ever increasing jury awards, Roche will likely settle more claims through out of court settlements to avoid high court costs and widespread publicity.

If you suffer, or have suffered, from Accutane side effects, you might have a valid claim against the manufacturer. For more information, contact an experienced drug recall attorney knowledgeable in handling pharmaceutical litigation.