Accutane is Roche Pharmaceuticals' "last resort" medication for severe acne. In 1998, many of its frightening side effects were still only poorly understood, and the precautions listed for the drug did not, for example, include a warning about reports of depression and suicide among users.
Kim's dermatologist prescribed Accutane for a bout of acne. Within six months of starting daily doses of Accutane, she says, her life took a terrible turn for the worse: "It cleared up my acne, but the price that I paid for clear skin just wasn't worth it."
The price she paid was a severe, long-lasting depression. "It was the darkest place I've ever been—a place of complete despair and hopelessness. It got to a point where I just really prayed to die," she says years later. Trying to cope with that persistent depression over years destroyed her career and her relationships.
READ MORE LEGAL NEWS
Kim S. is now suing Roche Pharmaceuticals for all that she has suffered. For its part, Roche insists that its product warnings for Accutane were "adequate as a matter of law" (whatever that means) as of 1998. Smith says, though, that she never was warned about depression as a possible side effect. She also doubts that her depression could have stemmed from other causes. "The only thing that changed in my life was taking Accutane."
For all that she has gone through as a result of taking Accutane, Kim S. says, "I do thank God every day that I am alive. At least I have a chance to rebuild my life when others don't."