A New Jersey jury has awarded $1.5 million in damages to a woman who alleged that she developed inflammatory bowel disease from Accutane, an acne medication that has been the subject of a number of similar lawsuits in recent years.
The verdict was handed down on March 11, in an Accutane lawsuit brought by Kamie Kendall Rees. The case originally went to trial in 2010, resulting in a $10.5 million award that was overturned on appeal.
Roche, the manufacturer of Accutane, appealed the original verdict, arguing that certain evidence was excluded that should have been presented to the jury.
Following the retrial, the jury found once again that Roche failed to adequately warn about the potential side effects of Accutane, which have been linked to the development of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. In addition to the evidence excluded from the first trial, the jury was unswayed by new data that came from six studies completed since the first trial, which Roche claimed to show no association between Accutane and bowel disease.
Kendall Rees began using Accutane when she was 12, due to severe recalcitrant nodular acne. She developed ulcerative colitis when she was 15, and had to have her colon removed in 2006 when she turned 21.
Even though the $1.5 million awarded this week is only a fraction of what Rees was awarded in the first trial, that amount could climb substantially once prejudgment interest is factored into the award.
Accutane, known generically as isotretinoin, 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. Roche faces thousands of Accutane bowel disease lawsuits which are centralized for “mass tort treatment” before Judge Carol E. Higbee in New Jersey state court.
Kendall Rees’ victory is the tenth loss for Roche out of the 13 Accutane trials that have gone before a jury to date, with several cases resulting in multi-million dollar damage awards for plaintiffs.