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Roche Holding Ordered to Pay $25 Million to Accutane User

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A New Jersey jury ordered Roche Holding AG to pay $25.16 million to a former Accutane user who blamed the acne medication for his inflammatory bowel disease. The man, 38-year-old Andrew McCarell, testified that he became extremely ill after beginning the medication in 1995. Overall, he needed five surgeries, including one to remove his colon.

McCarell won the verdict on Tuesday in Atlantic City, NJ and represents the largest of six cases against Roche Holding and it medication Accutane, whose awards totaled $56 million. All of the Accutane users argued that Roche Holding failed to adequately warn of the risks associated with taking the medication. In fact, Roche has had so many complaints from former Accutane users that it stopped selling the drug in June 2009, although the company maintains that generic competition and the high cost of defending personal injury lawsuits are the real reasons for discontinuing sales of the drug. Overall, Roche faces over 1,000 lawsuits over Accutane.

More than 13 million took Accutane after it was first introduced in 1982. The drug has been linked to other health problems in users, including birth defects and depression. While seven of the nine jurors agreed that Roche was at fault for failing to provide adequate warnings about Accutane, Roche recently stated:

“Our sympathies remain with Andrew McCarrell over his disease. Both the finding and the amount of damages were unsupported by the evidence. Roche acted appropriately in providing information about Accutane, including a direct warning about inflammatory bowel disease, to the medical, scientific and regulatory communities.”

As with all the other cases, Roche has also vowed to appeal the outcome of McCarell’s lawsuit.