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US family sues Roche for acne treatment

Roche has refuted all accusations regarding the psychological effects of Accutane


The family of the young American who crashed his plane into a building in Florida is seeking SFr70 million in damages from the Swiss pharmaceuticals group, Roche.

The relatives of the 15-year old Charles Bishop said the severe psychological side effects caused by an acne treatment had driven the youngster to crash his Cessna plane into a skyscraper in the city of Tampa.

The lawyer representing the plaintiffs, Michael Ryan, said Roche's Accutane treatment generated feelings of "psychological alienation", depression or suicide in some patients, such as Bishop.

Prior to starting a treatment of Accutane in April 2001, Ryan said Bishop had been a normal, happy youngster with a strong academic record. However, the medicine had provoked a profound psychological change, he said.

In his suicide note written shortly before the crash in January, Bishop expressed "sympathy" for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda terrorists, despite having had no prior links to any terrorist organisation.

Roche has refuted all accusations, saying there was no scientific evidence that Accutane has psychological side-effects.

Roche won a similar court case in Oklahoma last August, when a judge ruled that the drug had not been the cause of depression in the plaintiff.

An official report into Bishop's death found no traces of Accutane in his blood stream.

swissinfo with agencies

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