LONDON, ON, Feb. 4, 2013 /CNW/ - When Jennifer Twamley was prescribed Accutane at 17 to control her acne, little did she know the long-term impact the drug would have on her life.
Twamley, 33, now suffers from Ulcerative Colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which lawyers Barb Legate of Legate & Associates and Dave Williams of Harrison Pensa say is a side effect of Accutane.
Twamley has undergone two surgeries, including removal of her colon. "It's been devastating," says Twamley, whose career and lifestyle have been drastically curtailed. "I wish I had never taken that drug. Having a chronic illness is isolating."
Twamley, a television producer, is suing drug maker Hoffmann-La Roche over Accutane in what is known as a mass tort, one of the first in Canada involving the acne drug. The lawsuit was filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.A mass tort is a group of lawsuits involving individuals who share similar complaints as a result of their experiences with a drug or defective product. Mass torts are common in the United States, where Roche has already been successfully sued for millions of dollars in connection with the manufacture and sale of Accutane. Roche stopped selling Accutane in the United States in 2009 for business reasons, but the drug is still sold in Canada. Legate says Accutane has destructive side effects that many Canadians weren't warned about. "We believe there are thousands of victims in Canada who have been hurt by Accutane. We are seeking justice for them." Williams adds, "Studies in the U.S. have found that Accutane is linked to inflammatory bowel disease, which includes Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's disease." "The sad thing is that many people who have developed a disease like colitis or Crohn's don't realize that a common drug they were prescribed as a teenager for their acne could be the likely cause. It has had harsh consequences," he added.