Since 2007, Roche Pharmaceuticals has lost nine of 13 lawsuits and has been ordered to pay more than $53 in damages to patients. Over 13 million people have taken Accutane since 1982, however the number of those affected negatively is indeterminable.
Over 7000 lawsuits have been filed, with hundreds—if not a 1000—still in court. Plaintiffs claim Roche Pharmaceuticals was negligent, failed to properly test Accutane, failed to responsibly create and sell the drug, and failed to adequately warn consumers of its side effects. Many of the lawsuits are seeking damages because of permanent side effects resulting in lost wages, high medical costs, pain and suffering.
Not all of the lawsuits are brought on by the two most talked about side effects (birth defects and depression). In fact, many relate to patients developing IBD, including an Alabama man who was awarded $25 million in 2010 because of this side effect.
The drug still poses risks to consumers even though Roche stopped producing the drug in 2009. It is still available in its generic form under the brand names Claravis, Sotret and Amnesteem. Roche said the decision to discontinue Accutane prescriptions in the US and 11 other counties was due purely to business and not because of safety. Roche claimed the generic versions were slowing down the sales of Accutane, causing them to lose money. In some counties, Roche now sells a drug called Roaccutane— its active ingredient being isotretinoin.
An estimated 5,000 claims are still pending. With ever increasing jury awards, Roche will likely settle more claims through out of court settlements to avoid high court costs and widespread publicity.
If you or someone you know has been negatively impacted by Accutane or its generic version, isotretinoin, contact a lawyer who specializes in product liability or even Accutane lawsuits.