Do you remember how the end of A Few Good Men was bittersweet? Sure, the two young soldiers weren't convicted, per se, but they were dishonorably discharged. Actor James Marshall-who played PFC Louden Downey in the film-experienced the same "sting in the tail" after taking Accutane to treat his acute acne; yep, the drug put an end to his pimples, but like thousands of other Accutane users, Marshall developed serious gastrointestinal issues after being prescribed the drug. His condition was so severe, a colectomy was required.
In early 2010, Marshall filed an $11 million dollar lawsuit in New Jersey against the drug's manufacturer, Roche Pharmaceuticals. Marshall's case was delayed in August of 2010 when a New Jersey court ordered the reversal of Kamie Kendall's Accutane lawsuit. Originally, Kendall was awarded $10.5 million. The stay, however, is now over and Accutane lawsuits are back on New Jersey's trial agenda for February, 2011.
Roche Pharmaceuticals introduced Accutane (Isotretinoin) in 1982. Originally used in cancer treatment cocktails, doctors discovered it was also successful in treating serious acne because it dried out oil producing glands. In short order, Accutane became Roche's cash cow, annually pulling in $1.2 billion for the company.
Several years after its release, however, courts were flooded with Accutane lawsuits. Complaints ranged from irritable bowel disease to clinical depression. In New Jersey alone, over 2,000 Isotretinoin lawsuits have been filed. In 2009, Accutane was essentially recalled off the market when Roche announced it would no longer be distributing the drug in the United States. Many hypothesize their abrupt departure was, in large part, due to escalating legal costs.
It's no wonder Roche bailed; Accutane lawsuit settlements were costing the pharmaceutical mega-corp millions and the negative media attention wasn't exactly a boon to their bottom line. Their legal track record was also abysmal; since 2007, Roche had lost seven, expensive, jury-tried Accutane lawsuits.
Would-be Hollywood superstar, James Marshall, asked for $11 million, but his compensatory damage request does not top the Accutane lawsuit settlement list. Andrew McCarrell, who, like Marshall, had to have his colon removed due to Accutane-related complications, was awarded $25.16 million. Dozens of others have been publically awarded settlements between $7 and $10 million dollars. Most Accutane lawsuits, however, are settled out of court; moreover, Roche actively appeals each guilty verdict, so Accutane lawsuits are notoriously lengthy affairs.
Those with anti-litigious mindsets agree with Roche's "won't back down" appeal approach; after all, in drug injury cases, plaintiffs must often prove they were not aware of a medication's side effects. In the case of Accutane, Roche did, indeed, start placing black box warnings on the drug's packaging shortly after complaints were made between its use and various side effects. In fact, Accutane came wrapped in warnings as ubiquitous as those found on a pack of cigarettes. If you believe Accutane spokesman, Christopher Vancheri, "Since 1984, Roche has responsibly warned about the possibility of inflammatory bowel disease to the medical, scientific and regulatory communities."
Regardless, there was a period when Accutane was footloose and caution-free, which makes Roche fair game for suffering ex-Accutane patients who were prescribed the drug during its pre-warning days. Marshall's Accutane lawsuit is based in the assertion that he was Hollywood's next James Dean, undoubtedly destined for silver screen greatness, but due to his digestive difficulties, was prematurely stripped of his lucrative film career.
To prove his Accutane-killed-my-career claim, Marshall's lawyer, Michael Hook, plans to put Hollywood luminaries, Martin Sheen, Brian Dennehy and Rob Reiner on the stand in Marshall's defense. According to Hook, "The jury will hear that James Marshall had the potential to be the next James Dean-like star."
Time will tell if Louden Downey will come out on top in his real-world, Accutane lawsuit; if the actor can prove he was prescribed the drug before Roche covered it with caveat emptor cautions, there's a strong chance he'll prevail.
While Accutane is no longer available in the United States, the Swiss-based company is still being sued in US courts. If you once took Accutane and now suffer from digestive complications, you may be entitled to damages. If you're interesting in pursuing an Accutane lawsuit to recover medical costs or lost wages, complete the form below and one of our experienced personal injury lawyers will be in touch.