More than 400 Accutane lawsuits alleging the acne drug caused a variety of side effects, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, have been filed in a New Jersey mass tort litigation over the past two months. There are now close to 1,600 Accutane pending in the New Jersey litigation, all of which claim Roche AG failed to warn users of the acne serious Accutane side effects. Nationwide, more than 5,000 lawsuits have been filed over the years that allege a variety of Accutane complications.
Approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 1982, Accutane has been the subject of controversy for years. It first garnered attention in the late eighties for causing severe birth defects. It has also been known to cause psychiatric problems, and has been linked to hundreds of cases of suicide in the United States. Accutane has also been associated with problems of the liver, kidneys, central nervous system, and pancreas, as well as the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and auto-immune systems. Besides,the drug’s side effects were studied thoroughly in Canada. The researchers investigated the links between Accutane and severe, possibly fatal skin reactions, including erythema multiforme, Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis.The fact caused a flurry of Accutane lawsuits in Canada.
In 2009, Roche decided initiate Accutane recall for economic reasons. In announcing the decision, Roche cited the high cost of product liability suits involving the drug as one of the factors in the decision.
The spike in Accutane claims filed in New Jersey comes on the heels of a court ruling there that found the statute of limitation for such lawsuit should be based on when plaintiffs discovered there could be a connection between the Accutane and their bowel disorder.
Roche has not had a great track record when it comes to defending Accutane lawsuits. Bloomberg News reported in August that Roche has lost all seven Accutane cases that have been considered by juries since 2007, including the last three in a row. Juries in New Jersey and Florida ordered the drug maker to pay a total of at least $45 million in damages in those cases. However, appeals courts later threw out two of the verdicts, including a 2007 award of $7 million to a Florida man who blamed the drug for IBD.