Accutane Verdict: More Evidence that Drug Safety System is Broken

Regardless of whether you agree with the size of the verdict there can be little doubt that our system to protect us from the profit motives of big Pharma is broken.

Lawyers suing Roche Laboratories Inc. had reason to be dismayed 14 months ago when a state appeals court threw out a $2.5 million jury verdict they had won for a man who blamed the acne drug Accutane for his bowel disease. On Tuesday, the lawyers won 10 times more at the retrial. An Atlantic County jury awarded $25.16 million to Andrew McCarrell of Birmingham, Ala., after finding that Roche knew or should have known that Accutane caused inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and failed to warn prescribing physicians. It’s the largest of five victories that Accutane users have won against the drug maker, including a $13 million verdict last November for three plaintiffs. As in the other cases, McCarrell’s lawyers presented evidence that Roche never published studies to the scientific and medical community that showed that Accutane’s byproducts damage the gastrointestinal tract and lead to degeneration and erosion of the intestinal lining — a trigger for IBD.