Last year Roche Holding AG, the manufacturer of the acne drug Accutane (generic: isotretinoin), was ordered to pay $25.16 million in damages to a patient who developed inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) because of the dangerous drug.
Drug Maker Found Liable
Andrew McCarrell began taking Accutane in 1995. After taking the drug, he developed IBD and required five surgeries, including one to remove his colon. The jury deliberated for a brief 3.5 hours before delivering its unanimous verdict: Andrew deserves $159,000 for his previous medical expenses and another $25 million in compensatory damages.
What is IBD?
Inflammatory bowel disease is a not the same as a similarly named condition called Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which causes discomfort and relatively mild digestive problems. IBD is much more damaging and includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, among other conditions. Generally, the various diseases under the IBD umbrella present with the same symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Rectal bleeding
- Severe cramps
- Liver problems
- Dermatological disorders
Testing is usually conducted via a colonoscopy and biopsy of lesions in the colon. Doctors will be able to confirm whether or not a patient has IBD and determine the specific variety of the disease, which will help a patient choose the best treatment.
Causes of IBD
While the specifics of what causes IBD are unknown, researchers believe the lesions are caused by an overactive immune system. Normally, the body’s immune system reacts to an illness or potential infection but then will relax its defenses when the threat has been neutralized. However, in people with IBD the immune system does not stop fighting even when there is nothing left to fight.
Treatment options vary and depend on the severity and type of IBD. Andrew’s case was severe; surgeries and removal of the colon is usually a last resort. An anti-inflammatory drug called mesalazine (sometimes spelled mesalamine) can be used in mild-to-moderate cases of IBD. Also, immunosuppression therapies or steroids may help patients reduce their symptoms. However, these treatments merely reduce or control symptoms. IBD is a chronic condition and, other than surgery to remove the colon, there is no known cure.
If you took Accutane and have developed Inflammatory Bowel Disease, please contact us. Our attorneys specialize in Accutane-related cases and offer a free, confidential assessment of your story to help you determine the options for your claim.