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Friday, June 26, 2009

Lawsuits Help Drive a Drug from the Marketplace

Roche, Inc. today announced that after 27 years it will immediately discontinue the manufacture and distribution of Accutane, its prescription drug treatment for severe acne that has been used by more than 13 million patients worldwide.  As one reason for discontinuing the drug, Roche explains that generic versions of isotretinoin (Accutane) have reduced its market share to less than 5 percent. 

But then there's this:

In addition, Roche has been faced with high costs from personal-injury lawsuits that the company continues to defend vigorously.


Those who follow these issues closely will know that Roche has been engaged in many heated lawsuits in our very own Atlantic County, NJ over Accutane.  Those who watch extremely closely will know that Roche has appealed some cases after losing large verdicts in cases where the rulings of Judge Carol Higbee have been at issue. 

Accutane has been approved by the FDA for over a generation for the treatment of acne and has been taken by tens of millions of people.  But plaintiffs lawyers from around the country have come to NJ to sue the company, alleging that the drug may cause Iritable Bowell Syndrome (IBS) in a small number of those who take the drug.  Roche denies this, but is now pulling the drug from the market in part because of the cost of defending these suits.

If you are reading this and currently taking Accutane, trial lawyers owe you an apology.  You just lost your drug. 

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Acne is associated with a high rate of suicide. I anticipate more suicides as people are forced off Accutane and its generic version due to defensive medicine.

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