ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., April 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Hagens Berman LLP, a nationally recognized law firm today praised a jury's verdict that ordered pharmaceutical company Roche (ROG:VX) to pay $2 million to a woman who suffered serious gastrointestinal damage caused by the drug Accutane, while denying similar claims of actor James Marshall and another plaintiff.
Accutane, along with its active ingredient, isotretinoin, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1982 to treat severe acne and became one of the biggest selling drugs for Roche with more than 16 million users. However, the drug's success has also been tainted by a history of more than 20 product-labeling modifications, FDA warning letters and litigation.
The woman, Gillian Gaghan, took the drug and developed serious complications, including ulcerative colitis and lupus-like symptoms, and has lost nighttime bowel control, court records show.
The seven-person jury concluded that the Swiss drug giant did not warn Gaghan of the risks associated with taking the drug, which led to her developing the ulcerative colitis.
James Marshall, an actor with a long list of film credits, claimed that the injuries he sustained using Accutane cut short his promising career, a claim substantiated by testimony of Martin Sheen and director Rob Reiner. The jury found that Marshall had a pre-existing condition and that Accutane was not a substantial factor in the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The jury agreed that Accutane was responsible for the third plaintiff's development of IBD, but Roche's failure to warn wasn't a factor in Kelley Andrews' decision to take the drug.
Hagens Berman currently represents more than 50 individuals who claim they developed irreversible side effects, including IBD, after taking Accutane. The firm was not involved in the Greenblatt v. Roche case, but Hagens Berman partner Robert Carey believes the jury's decision to hold Roche accountable gives hope to others who may have been harmed by the drug.
"We've spoken with hundreds of people who have been affected by Accutane, and without exception they tell us that if they knew of an increased risk of IBD they would have never used the medication," said Carey, who represents individuals in injury claims against Accutane. "Gaghan's case proves that our legal system works. We also intend to use litigation to help other individuals who were negatively affected by this drug to find justice."
This verdict marks the eighth lawsuit to go to trial since Roche was first charged with allegations linking Accutane to IBD and other intestinal diseases. Juries in all eight cases have issued verdicts against Roche, totaling $47 million in damages.
Roche currently faces more than 3,000 lawsuits that involve Accutane and bowel-disease claims.
In earlier cases, Roche was ordered to pay $7 million to a plaintiff in a 2007 verdict and $25.1 million to another plaintiff in a 2010 decision, and these cases are currently on appeal.
Roche, a Switzerland-based company with a manufacturing unit in New Jersey, still contends that the drug is safe, but the drug maker voluntarily pulled Accutane from the market in 2009.
"Our investigation raises concerns that Roche may have concealed certain side effects linked to Accutane in an attempt to maximize profits," said Carey. "We are also interested to speak with witnesses who may have more information about these claims."
Individuals who developed intestinal problems including IBD, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis or other medical conditions believed to be linked to the acne drug after taking Accutane are encouraged to contact Hagens Berman for a personal consultation at 800-888-0088 or to visit www.accutanelawyers.com. Information provided to the firm will remain confidential.
About Hagens Berman
Seattle-based Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is one of the top class-action law firms in the nation, with offices in Boston, Chicago, Colorado Springs, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Founded in 1993, we represent plaintiffs in class actions and multi-state, large-scale litigation that seek to protect the rights of investors, consumers, workers and whistleblowers. More information about the firm is available at www.hbsslaw.com.