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Ulcerative Colitis Is One of the Most Serious Accutane Side Effects

Perry Larkin | July 31st, 2012

One of the most serious and debilitating of Accutane isotretinoin side effects, ulcerative colitis is a long-lasting disease that creates inflammation, swelling, and in the worst cases, ulcers, along the inner lining of the large intestine. Symptoms include bleeding, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort and pain, and sometimes the production of pus and mucus.

Over time, the patient may become fatigued, anemic, and dehydrated, and may lose weight, become malnourished, and experience a fever.

Doctors aren’t sure what causes ulcerative colitis, though they theorize that the disease has something to do with a dysfunctional immune system. However, a 2009 University of North Carolina study reported that those people who used isotretinoin were 1.68 times more likely to develop inflammatory bowel disease than those who didn’t, and that patients who had filled four or more prescriptions were 2.67 times likely to be diagnosed with the disease.

When researchers looked at ulcerative colitis alone, those using isotretinoin were 4.36 times more likely to develop the disease.

Plaintiffs blame Hoffman-La Roche for failing to warn them about Accutane

Plaintiffs filing lawsuits against manufacturer Hoffman-La Roche, through their Accutane lawyer, blame the company for failing to warn them of the risks of Accutane side effects. Even the most recent label change fails to draw a direct connection between the drug and the disease, however. The wording notes: “Accutane has been associated with inflammatory bowel disease in patients without a prior history of intestinal disorders. In some instances, symptoms have been reported to persist after Accutane treatment has stopped.”

Meanwhile, patients suffering with ulcerative colitis most likely have symptoms that come and go, with flare-ups sometimes producing effects serious enough to require hospitalization.

Side effects reported quickly and lawsuits are still in dispute

Shortly after the FDA approved the use of Accutane in the 1980s for the treatment of severe acne, patients reported serious side effects. One of the most common, besides birth defects, was Accutane inflammatory bowel disease, including ulcerative colitis.

A disease that causes inflammation of the colon and rectum, ulcerative colitis can lead to painful symptoms that require constant monitoring and medical attention. Sometimes the disease requires invasive removal of part of the colon or rectum, after which patients are required to undergo a procedure allowing the bowels to empty into an ostomy pouch.

Thousands of patients who have suffered from this disease have often filed lawsuits against Hoffman-La Roche for failing to warn of the risks. In 2008, for example, Kamie Kendall was awared 0.5 million to compensate her for her ulcerative colitis, but that decision was later vacated in an appeal. Kendall may still be moving forward with a retrial.

Andrew McCarrell was awarded over $25 million in 2010. The award came in his second trial and the appellate court upheld the verdict. McCarrell walked away with a substantial award, but had to go through five surgeries and the removal of his colon during his battle with ulcerative colitis after taking Accutane.

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  • Accutane Attorney Says Roche Had Prior Knowledge of Side Effects
  • Accutane Mass Tort Trial Continues in New Jersey

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