The Accutane lawsuit was filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice by Jennifer Twamley, who has been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis after using the acne medication.
The complaint seeks mass tort status, based on the belief that thousands of Canadians could have similar claims for bowel problems caused by Accutane.
Roche, the manufacturer of Accutane, faces thousands of similar lawsuits in the United States, and the company cited the mounting costs of the Accutane litigation as one of the reasons they stopped selling the drug in this country in 2009. However, generic Accutane equivalents are still available in the U.S. and Roche still sells the name brand drug in Canada.
Twamley indicates that she began taking Accutane when she was 17. She has now been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which the lawsuit alleges has caused severe problems for the 33 year old, affecting her social life and career as a television producer. The lawsuit claims Roche failed to warn users about the potential risk of bowel disease from Accutane.
Known generically as isotretinoin, Accutane has been used by more than 16 million people worldwide since it was first introduced in the early 1980s. The brand name version was removed from the market amid mounting litigation over Accutane, which raises similar allegations that the drug maker failed to adequately warn about the risk of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
More than 7,000 Accutane bowel disease lawsuits are pending in New Jersey state court, where the cases are centralized for “mass tort treatment” before Judge Carol E. Higbee.
Several bellwether trials held in New Jersey have resulted in multi-million dollar damage awards for individuals who developed IBD from Accutane, finding that Roche failed to properly warn patients or the medical community.
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects nearly 700,000 Americans, impacting the lining of the intestines and colon. Symptoms of the disease include abdominal pain, blood in the stool, diarrhea, fever, fatigue and weight loss and is typically treated with corticosteroids, immunomodulators or Remicade if patients do not respond to other treatments.