The New Jersey Supreme Court has found that drug maker Hoffman-LaRoche provided proper and adequate warnings to patients taking its acne medication Accutane. In so doing, it has effectively dismissed consolidated lawsuits filed by some 514 plaintiffs.
In its ruling, which was a 6-0 decision with one justice abstaining, the Court found that Accutane’s warnings had been approved by the FDA since 2002. “On the record before us, even when viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiffs,” writes Justice Barry Albin in the Court’s decision, “we do not find that Roche withheld from the FDA material information that would have altered the nature of the warnings or engaged in economically driven manipulation of the regulatory process.”
The lawsuits stem from claims that Accutane can cause various gastrointestinal complications including irritable bowel disease. As a result of these complications, plaintiffs felt that the drug’s warning label should have indicated that Accutane “causes” IBS rather than merely being “associated” with it.
The New Jersey dismissal runs in stark contrast to a 2014 ruling made in the same state where a jury determined that Accutane caused the plaintiff in the case to develop ulcerative colitis – another gastrointestinal condition – and awarded her over $1.5 million. She lost large amounts of her large intestine to the condition and suffered the complications at the age of just 15.
The extent to which the remaining Accutane lawsuits depend specifically on what kind of complications the drug allegedly caused remains to be seen. However, thousands of lawsuits have been filed by Accutane patients for a variety of ailments. The dismissal of over 500 at one time has certainly garnered the attention of both sides in the matter.