Accutane Lawsuits, Litigation & Lawyers

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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The acne remedy Accutane, a synthetic form of vitamin A used to treat serious forms of acne that can cause scarring, has been the subject of extensive litigation because of a long list of side effects including inflammatory bowel disease, suicide, and birth defects.

The U.S. manufacturer of Accutane, Hoffman La Roche, is part of the international conglomerate known as “The La Roche Group,” with affiliates in 150 countries. “The La Roche Group” is estimated to be the seventh largest pharmaceutical company in the world. Accutane is one of Hoffman La Roche’s top sellers with estimated annual sales of $1.2 billion. Accutane is also one of the 3 drugs on the market with the most reports of adverse side effects, and this has led to extensive litigation. Lawsuits have been brought against Hoffman La Roche for alleged adverse reactions caused by Accutane including gastrointestinal disorders, suicides, and birth defects.

In May of 2007, a man who suffered gastrointestinal harm received a judgment of $2.5 million against Roche. This was followed in October 2007 by a judgment for $7 million to a man who had his colon removed. Roche appealed the second judgment and it was upheld in February 2008. In April 2008, a 24-year-old woman who had part of her intestines removed won a $10 million verdict against Roche. Roche has vowed to appeal all judgments for injury caused by inflammatory bowel disease, claiming that the link between inflammatory bowel disease and Accutane has not been proven and that Roche has had a warning for the condition on the label for over 20 years.

Lawsuits about psychiatric side effects of Accutane include the following:

  • The family of Charles Bishop, a 15-year-old boy who crashed a small plane into a Tampa skyscraper after taking Accutane for 8 months.
  • The family of Steven Wertheimer, a 14-year-old who was killed when he stood in front of a commuter train next to the Palo Alto High School football field.
  • The family of a 22-year-old Virginia man who committed suicide.
  • The family of a 21-year-old woman who attempted suicide while taking Accutane.

Another suit against Hoffman La Roche was filed by a 33-year-old mother who suffered severe depression when she took Accutane and had a child with severe birth defects. At least one appeals court (New Jersey) has ruled, however, that Hoffman La Roche cannot be liable for birth defects caused by Accutane, because Hoffman La Roche has been warning both health care providers and patients about the risk for many years. Patients may still have claims against health care providers, clinics, or others who prescribed Accutane unnecessarily, did not warn of side effects, or did not monitor the patient adequately during treatment.

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