Court overturns $10.5M Accutane verdict

Roche won't be fighting Hollywood over Accutane--at least not just yet. That's because an appeals court sent a previous Accutane verdict back to trial court for a re-do. The New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division overturned a $10.5 million jury verdict against Roche, saying that the company was improperly barred from introducing evidence that might have changed the jury's mind.

The case was sent back for retrial "because the original verdict followed from an unfair trial," Christopher Vancheri, a U.S.-based spokesman for Roche, tells Bloomberg. Because of the appeals court decision, the trial judge in the case of James Marshall--an actor who blames Accutane for his curtailed career--decided to postpone that trial, keeping celebrities such as Martin Sheen and Rob Reiner off the stand for now.

At issue, at least at the trial level, is whether Roche properly warned Accutane patients about the potential risk of inflammatory bowel disease. The newly overturned jury verdict was one of seven, together amounting to some $45 million, that helped prompt Roche to withdraw the branded version of the now-off-patent acne drug, Bloomberg says.

- read the Bloomberg coverage