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Product liability lawsuits are legal cases in which the plaintiff claims that a product, such as a prescription drug or over-the-counter medicine, is more dangerous than its labeling or marketing suggest. When the plaintiffs win, such lawsuits can result in damages being awarded to plaintiffs to pay for medical expenses resulting from the illnesses or injuries they suffered because of the products. The defendant, namely the company that makes the dangerous product, can be required to label the product more clearly with references to its associated dangers, and it might have to pay punitive damages. In some cases, the court can require the defendant to stop selling the product entirely. One of the drugs that has been the subject of product liability lawsuits is the acne medication Accutane.

Accutane and its Alleged Risks

Accutane is a prescription drug manufactured by Roche. Dermatologists prescribe it to patients whose acne has failed to show improvement after treatment with more conventional remedies such as topical medications, antibiotics, or even hormonal contraceptives. Some patients who took Accutane reported severe psychiatric or digestive side effects from the drug, including suicidal thoughts and behavior, and inflammatory bowel disease. After numerous complaints and liability lawsuits, the drug’s manufacturers added a black box warning to the packaging of Accutane, informing patients of the side effects that some patients who had taken the drug had suffered.

Product Liability Lawsuits and Appeals

The product liability lawsuits related to Accutane go back more than eight years. Several thousand patients have sued Roche because of adverse effects related to taking the drug. Many of the lawsuits were filed in New Jersey, where Roche is headquartered, although the patients themselves came from many different states. Roche ended up paying millions of dollars of damages to thousands of plaintiffs.

In 2017, an appeals court overturned the decisions of many of the trial courts. The issues had to do mainly with which expert testimony the trial courts had allowed and which testimony they had suppressed. Namely, the trial court had not allowed the testimony of a gastroenterologist who argued that the Crohn’s disease suffered by some of the plaintiffs could have been the result of taking Accutane. Additionally, the trial court had suppressed the testimony of a statistician who criticized the methodology of some of the epidemiology studies cited by the parties.  Controversy over expert witness testimony is a fairly common issue in lawsuits related to personal injury, including product liability lawsuits.

Contact Case Barnett About Product Liability Cases

If your illness was not caused by a doctor’s negligence, it is not medical malpractice. Instead, it could be a case of product liability if the doctor acted in good faith but the product is more dangerous than anyone, including healthcare professionals realize. Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California if you think that your illness or injuries are the result of severe side effects from a dangerous prescription or over-the-counter drug.

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