Accutane Trial Results in $18M Award for Two Lawsuits

A trial in New Jersey state court has resulted in a verdict of $18 million, including $9 million each awarded to two plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit over bowel problems from Accutane, an acne medication developed by Roche, which is the subject thousands of other similar claims brought by individuals throughout the United States.

The jury found that Roche failed to adequately warn about the risk of inflammatory bowel disease from Accutane, awarding Kathleen Rossitto and Riley Wilkinson $9 million in compensatory damages apiece. However, the same jury returned defense verdicts in lawsuits brought by Rebecca Reynolds and Jason Young, finding that any failure to warn was not the cause of injuries suffered by those plaintiffs.

Accutane, known generically as isotretinoin, has been used by more than 16 million people worldwide since it was first introduced in the early 1980s as a treatment for severe acne.

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Roche and manufacturers of generic versions of the drug, currently face nearly 8,000 Accutane lawsuits in New Jersey state court, where the litigation is centralized as part of a mass tort before Judge Carl E. Higbee in Atlantic County.

All of the lawsuits involve similar claims that former users of the acne medication developed severe and debilitaitng bowel problems as a result of Accutane, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Complaints allege that the injuries could have been provided if the manufacturers had provided adequate warnings with Accutane.

Roche stopped selling Accutane in June 2009, citing the increasing costs associated with the lawsuits over Accutane and falling sales. However, the medication remains available from a number of different generic drug makers, sold under names like Claravis, Sotret, Amnesteem and generic isotretinoin.

The first Accutane trial was presented to a jury in April 2007, and about a dozen cases have made it to trial since that time, resulting in several multi-million dollar jury awards for damages caused by Accutane.

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