In 2009, Roche Holding AG announced the withdrawal of its Accutane acne medicine from the US Market. The decision was largely driven by falling market share, the product reaching the end of its life cycle, and the high cost of personal injury lawsuits.
Accutane Lawsuit Update 7/2/12: Last month, pharmaceutical giant Roche Holding AG was ordered to pay a total of $18 million to settle a pair of lawsuits claiming that Accutane caused the plaintiffs’ inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The company has now lost nine of 13 lawsuits brought by former Accutane users that have gone to trial since April 2007. Click here to learn more.
What’s the problem?
In June 2009, Hoffman-LaRoche, the manufacturers of Accutane, issued a recall following a lawsuit verdict awarding more than $33 million in damages to Accutane injury victims. Several other claims have found the company guilty of improperly warning consumers of the life-threatening side effects of Accutane.
The 2009 lawsuit represented several Accutane victims who claimed the drug caused them to develop serious bowel diseases, including:
- Crohn’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Ulcerative colitis
In November 2008, a New Jersey jury ordered the company to pay $13 million to three such plaintiffs. The previous April, another New Jersey jury awarded $10.5 million to a woman who blamed the drug for her ulcerative colitis. In May 2007, another New Jersey trial resulted in an award of $2.62 million to a patient who needed to have his colon and most of his rectum removed after taking the drug. In October of the same year, a Florida jury awarded $7 million in damages to another Accutane user who developed the IBD.
In announcing its decision to pull Accutane, Roche did cite the high cost of product liability suits – it currently faces 5000 such lawsuits – involving the drug. Roche said Accutane will be pulled in the U.S. and 11 other countries. According to Reuters, Accutane is now no longer available from Roche directly but patients may still be able to get it from pharmacies.