The family of a 22-year-old Virginia man who committed suicide while taking the acne drug Accutane is suing the medicine’s manufacturer and his dermatologist for $2.5 million.
Nathan Day’s parents, Willis Day and Marguerite Ziemba, filed an Accutane lawsuit Dec. 16 in Roanoke Circuit Court against Dr. Gary Gross, the Lewis-Gale Clinic in Roanoke, and Hoffman-LaRoche Inc. and Roche Laboratories Inc., the makers of the drug.
The Days’ Accutane attorney claims product liability, negligent failure to warn, defective design and medical malpractice led to the young man’s death.
The Days’ suit mirrors the one filed last April by the family of Charles Bishop, a 15-year-old student pilot who stole a plane and crashed it into the Bank of America Plaza in downtown Tampa, Fla. on Jan. 5, 2002.
Bishop’s family is suing Accutane’s manufacturer for $70 million, contending that the medicine caused the boy to develop severe psychosis and led him to commit suicide.
Though highly successful in treating severe cases of acne, the Food and Drug Administration warns that the drug may cause depression and psychosis in patients, and in rare cases, could lead to suicidal thoughts and actions among other severe Accutane side effects.
Day, who had no previous history of depression, hung himself from a tree on Jan. 24, 2001.
The FDA says 147 people taking Accutane either committed suicide or were hospitalized for suicide attempts from 1982 to May 2000. An estimated 13 million patients have used Accutane since its debut in 1982.
However, Roche public affairs spokeswoman Gail Safian said there has never been a clear medical link between using the drug and suicide in patients.