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This just in:
Yesterday afternoon, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed, in an unpublished opinion, the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in an Accutane-suicide case. Stupak v. Hoffman-La Roche, Inc., No. 07-15980, slip op. (11th Cir. June 10, 2009) (link here).
In a nutshell, Stupak, age 17, was prescribed Accutane in December 1999 to treat acne. In May 2000, while still taking Accutane, Stupak committed suicide. Plaintiff pleaded product liability claims saying that ingestion of the drug caused the suicide.
The MDL trial court granted summary judgment to Hoffman-La Roche on the ground that the warning on the product was adequate and plaintiff could not prove proximate cause. Yesterday, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed, holding that the package insert mentioned the risk of suicide. Plaintiff asserted that the warning was inadequate because it didn’t mention the possibility of a suicide “without premonitory symptoms” — warning signs of depression, for example — but the record contained no evidence that Roche knew that Accutane could cause suicide without those symptoms.
Because this is an unpublished decision, it will have limited value as a precedent. But since it’s an appellate court affirming an MDL trial judge’s grant of summary judgment, it might reinforce the trial judge’s willingness to grant summary judgment in other Accutane cases.
UPDATE: Moments after we published this post, an alert reader sent us this note:
I believe this is Rep. Bart Stupak’s son. Rep. Stupak has been a vocal critic of ACCUTANE for many years.