For several years, the prescription acne medication Accutane has been the subject of extensive research because of its link to severe cases of inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD. As long ago as 2000, the FDA required Accutane manufacturer, Roche Pharmaceuticals, to update the drug’s label to accurately display the harmful side effects of the drug. In 2006, a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology indicated a strong link between Accutane and IBD, noting eighty-five instances of the disease in Accutane consumers during a five-year period, almost all of which were believed to be strongly linked to Accutane.
More recently, in 2010, a new study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology suggested that the risk of developing an inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis is quadrupled in individuals taking Accutane. While reviewing data from eighty-seven health insurance plans, researchers identified 8,189 people who had been diagnosed with IBD. Accutane, which was originally developed for use in treating pancreatic and brain cancer, has been taken by approximately 16 million people world-wide for treating severe case of acne.
Approximately one million people in the United States have reported severe cases of inflammatory bowel disease, a term used to describe gastrointestinal conditions including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Inflammatory bowel diseases are chronic conditions; victims with this kind of disease may experience periods of time with severe symptoms and period that are symptom-free, but the disease itself is long-lasting. The major difference between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis lies in the areas that are affected by the conditions. Crohn’s can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus, while the symptoms of ulcerative colitis are primarily restricted to the colon and the rectum.
Inflammatory bowel disease is typically diagnosed between a victim’s late teenage years and early thirties, although it can appear at any age. It is estimated that approximately 160,000 people suffer from ulcerative colitis and 80,000 people from Crohn’s disease. The symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases are similar from type to type, often making it difficult to differentiate among them. Also, two people with the same condition may have very different symptoms. Generally though, the symptoms of IBD include abdominal pain, vomiting, frequent and bloody diarrhea, weight loss and extreme fatigue.
The consequences of Accutane use can be devastating. Many types of IBD have no cure, and in 10-40% of cases of ulcerative colitis, surgery is required to remove the entire colon. Further complications associated with inflammatory bowel disease are long-lasting. In severe cases of Crohn’s disease, individuals may experience bowel movements occurring as often as twenty times a day or more. Extreme diarrhea can lead to dehydration, rapid heartbeat and decreased blood pressure, and continued loss of blood in the stool can result in anemia. Furthermore, loss of fluid and nutrients due to extreme diarrhea can cause fatigue, fever, weight loss and malnutrition. Most victims of inflammatory bowel disease will require life-long therapy and possibly surgical intervention.
Accutane was first approved by the FDA for use in treating severe acne in 1982, and the dangers of the medication have been apparent for several years since. Roche Pharmaceuticals finally pulled the drug off the U.S. market in 2009, but Accutane is still available in other countries and the generic form of Accutane is still on the market in the U.S. Although Accutane use has been restricted, diseases like IBD can take years to surface and there are new cases of Accutane-related diseases being diagnosed each year in former Accutane users. Victims of Accutane-related IBD are not at fault. They should not be held responsible for the cost of the extensive medical care required by conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The only way to receive reimbursement for complications associated with Accutane is to consult an Accutane attorney for legal guidance.
If you or a loved one has suffered from an inflammatory bowel disease as a result of taking Accutane, you should consider how filing a lawsuit may benefit you. Accutane lawyers are well-practiced in defective drug litigation and can help fight for your right, as a consumer, to be notified of dangerous medications. Several court cases have already awarded millions of dollars in damages to victims of inflammatory bowel disease resulting from Accutane, and there are currently hundreds of similar cases pending across the United States. With the help of an experienced Accutane attorney, you can work towards fair compensation for your injuries and expenses.