Hollywood witnesses spotlight Roche lawsuit

Drugmaker litigation attracts plenty of press coverage--but not usually in the gossip columns. Perhaps that's because pharma lawsuits typically don't feature Hollywood stars. But now there's a trial that's papparazzi-worthy: actor James Marshall is suing Roche for damages from the company's Accutane drug.

Marshall claims that the acne drug caused his inflammatory bowel disease, which in turn thwarted his acting career. He's seeking $11 million in damages. Obviously he'll have to prove his claims that he'd be a star if bowel disease hadn't gotten in his way.

And that's where Hollywood comes in. Actors Martin Sheen and Brian Dennehy are set to testify in the trial that starts next week. Director Rob Reiner is also scheduled to make an appearance via video. "The jury will hear that James Marshall had the potential to be the next James Dean-like star," Marshall's lawyer Michael Hook told Bloomberg. "That dream is gone because he took something to treat acne."

Marshall will have to prove wrongdoing on Roche's part too, and the company says it's been warning of a possible link between Accutane and inflammatory bowel disease for more than 25 years now. It's also been fighting plenty of lawsuits over the drug. The company actually pulled Accutane off the market in 2009 because of liability issues. Marshall's suit, while high-profile, is only one of many.

- see the coverage in the New York Daily News
- read the Bloomberg story