The retrial involves plaintiff Kamie Kendall, who was awarded $10 million in her lawsuit against Hoffman LaRoche. Kendall alleged in her lawsuit that she suffered from inflammatory bowel disease after using Accutane acne medication. Lawyers for Roche, however, reportedly argued that they were improperly prevented from providing data about the number of cases of inflammatory bowel disease in the general population compared with the rate of inflammatory bowel disease in patients who used Accutane. Roche's lawyers claimed that this information could have resulted in a different verdict from the jury.
A judge agreed and the Kendall lawsuit will now be retried.
Roche has consistently argued that there is no reliable scientific data to support the claim that Accutane causes inflammatory bowel disease. The drug company, however, is taking a chance in retrying the lawsuit. In a different lawsuit, plaintiff Andrew McCarrell was awarded more than $2 million in his lawsuit. Roche appealed that verdict and was granted a retrial. At the retrial, McCarrell was awarded more than $25 million.
Whether Kendall will enjoy the same victory remains to be seen.
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What is in question is whether or not Accutane (known generically as isotretinoin) is linked to an increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease. Although Roche says it is not, a study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology (09/10) suggests a link between isotretinoin and ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease.
In addition to Kamie Kendall's lawsuit, other lawsuits concerning Accutane have been scheduled for later this year.