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Bloomberg News reported this moments ago:
“Roche Holding AG, the world’s biggest maker of cancer drugs, is pulling its Accutane acne medicine from the U.S. market after juries awarded at least $33 million in damages to users who blamed the drug for bowel disease.”
Here’s our take: The cause of inflammatory bowel disease is unknown. There’s essentially no scientific evidence linking Accutane to that condition. (Here’s a link to our post from a couple of years ago reporting on the MDL judge’s rejection of plaintiffs’ general causation evidence supposedly linking Accutane to IBD.) Despite the absence of scientific evidence, juries have repeatedly awarded millions of dollars to folks who developed IBD after taking Accutane. (Here’s a link to one example.) So Roche Holding is now giving up the ship.
If you ever need another example of the cost of litigation driving a beneficial drug off the market, add Accutane to your list.
UPDATE:  A reader has also advised us that Accutane faces generic competition, which folks thinking about this situation should consider.