Patient Sues over Acne Drug Linked to Suicides

By Boggan, Steve | The Independent (London, England), April 29, 2002 | Go to article overview
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Patient Sues over Acne Drug Linked to Suicides


Boggan, Steve, The Independent (London, England)


A PATIENT is suing a hospital for giving him a controversial acne drug similar to the one prescribed to an American teenager who flew an aeroplane into the 28th floor of a skyscraper in a copycat 11 September attack.

Luke Hassett, 22, who was diagnosed as being a paranoid schizophrenic after taking Roaccutane, is to sue Leeds General Infirmary and the clinician who prescribed him the drug. Mr Hassett, one of hundreds of UK patients who claim to have suffered long-term adverse side-effects from taking the drug, decided to act after it was confirmed that Charles Bishop, the 15-year-old who flew into the Bank of America Plaza in Tampa, Florida, in January, had been taking Accutane, the American brand.

Last week lawyers for the Bishop family launched a $70m (pounds 48m) law suit against Roche, makers of the drug, alleging that the medication was responsible for causing their son to commit suicide.

Labelling on Roaccutane in the UK and Accutane in the US warns that the drug can cause "depression, psychosis and, rarely, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts and suicide". Other side-effects include painful joints, headaches and hair loss. The drug is extremely effective in many cases, but it has been linked to at least 138 suicides and many more suicide attempts.

Mr Hassett, who now lives in a psychiatric unit in Trafford General Hospital, Manchester, had no history of mental problems before he was prescribed Roaccutane for what he claims was mild acne in 1999. Subsequently, he became psychotic and had to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act. He is now on anti-psychotic medication and is allowed home for just four hours each day.

According to a US Food and Drugs Administration memo on Accutane issued in 1990: "The magnitude of injury and death has been great and permanent, with 11,000 to 13,000 Accutane-related abortions and 900 to 1,100 Accutane- related birth defects." In the UK, where tens of thousands of young people have been treated, there have been around 1,200 "adverse drug reactions" reported to the Medicines Control Agency, including 15 suicides.

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