Accutane was invented by the Swiss drugmaker Hoffmann-La Roche in the 1970s. It was sold as an acne drug in the United States from 1982 to 2009, then Roche pulled it from the market. Throughout the tumultuous history of this drug, Roche faced several government investigations, including those led by the FDA, the U.S. Congress, individual Congressmen, and state agencies and executives. Accutane was very nearly withdrawn from the market entirely over its most serious side effect, which is that Accutane indisputably causes extremely serious birth defects, which have occurred in hundreds of babies whose mothers were taking the drug. The FDA has long questioned why a drug intended to treat something so trivial as acne should be given to vulnerable teenagers when that drug can maim and kill babies. In addition to the birth defects, Accutane has been linked to over 100 other side effects. Despite the grave dangers of Accutane, it has been dispensed to countless patients who did not even have a very serious case of acne and who could have benefited from less aggressive, less deadly therapies.
One of the side effects Accutane causes is inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD. Inflammatory bowel disease is a group of diseases including ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD). Both diseases are permanent conditions that have no cure. Both UC and CD involve the chronic inflammation of the tissues of the intestinal tract, including rectum and colon. This inflammation is painful. It can lead to bleeding, severe pain, cramping, watery stools, mucus discharge, the inability to hold one’s bowels, and the need to use the toilet in excess of twenty times a day. People with IBD that is not well-controlled lead lives of misery: they cannot leave home because they cannot leave the bathroom; they cannot do certain jobs; they suffer unremitting pain; and they certainly can face significant depression and social isolation. IBD that is particularly serious must be treated with significant immunosuppressive drugs, which carry their own risks, and IBD that can’t be treated with drugs must be treated with surgery. IBD surgery can involve the removal of the entire colon, or other pieces of the intestines. After these surgeries, people never recover and never have the same bowel function. Some surgeries, those in the small intestines, can even lead to the body’s permanent inability to absorb enough nutrition through food, putting a person on a permanent feeding tube. IBD can kill; and ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are truly terrible conditions.
Roche knew Accutane could cause UC and CD when it was selling the drug, but Roche never warned patients about these conditions, and did not adequately warn their doctors either. For that reason, Roche is responsible under state law if its drugs caused these conditions.
Levin Papantonio and its partner firms have been pursuing Roche in court since 2001, and we have thousands of clients still seeking justice. We have tried nine trials against Roche over Accutane and IBD. Every jury that reached a verdict has found that Roche did not properly warn about the risks, and every such jury has determined that Accutane causes IBD. Levin Papantonio has won close to $100 million in cumulative jury verdicts for its clients. Roche has appealed all of these verdicts, and as of this writing, remains obstinately convinced that Accutane does not cause IBD.
We would be glad to talk with you about the effect Accutane has had on you or a loved one. Prospective clients or their family members may contact Bill Cash at (800) 277-1193 or bcashlevinlaw.com for a review of their case.