I never took the drug, but this is a perfect example of applying political pressure and what it can do.
As far as legally trying to connect (in court) that ANY certain drug "caused" MS, that's going to be almost impossible to do, since the pathogenesis of MS is so completely unknown. They can try, but they would really have to come up with an extremely overwhelmingly high correlation between people taking the drug and THEN immediately suffering from MS symptoms due to the side effects. Tough to do.
Anyway, just FYI, here's what I found that started that whole ball rolling:
A Congressman's son committed suicide, and he is convinced it is due to the side-effects of Accutane. There is also some evidence that Accutane causes birth defects, also. The suicide rate, though, is apparently uncommonly high with Accutane.
Here are some places to visit for more info:
Response of Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) to FDA
Accutane Advisory Panel Recommendations
February 27, 2004
“Three years ago, an FDA advisory panel made similar recommendations, but the FDA and Roche failed to implement them. This cannot happen again. I will keep their feet to the fire to immediately implement a mandatory and comprehensive program. For 22 years we have seen the horrific effects this drug has had on women and children. I’m pleased the committee sent a strong message to the drug companies and the FDA that this has got to stop. Unfortunately, the FDA and Roche have ignored past recommendations. That’s why I intend to introduce legislation to ensure that the current toothless voluntary program is replaced with a mandatory and comprehensive registry that includes all patients, prescribers and pharmacists.”
Accutane (generic name: isotretinoin) side effects include Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Rectal Bleeding, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Proctitis, Enterocolitis, Ileocolitis, Ileitis, Sigmoiditis, Colitis, Premature Epiphyseal Closure, Desiccation of the Spine and Discs, Optic Neuritis, Cirrhoses, Hepatotoxicity and severe birth defects. Accutane is a drug intended to treat severe, recalcitrant, nodular acne.
Parker & Waichman is evaluating Accutane cases where any of the following injuries have occured.
*Inflammatory Bowel Disease
*Premature Closure of Growth Plates
*Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome
*Central Nervous System Injuries
*Bone and Muscle Loss
*Liver and Kidney Damage
*Immune System Disorder
*Hearing and Vision Damage
In 1998, the Food and Drug Administration advised doctors who prescribe Accutane to watch their patients for signs of depression. Afterward, the Hoffman-LaRoche, the maker of Accutane, notified doctors that the drug ``may cause depression, psychosis, and, rarely, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts and suicide.''
However, the knowledge of the potential danger associated with Accutane did not become widely known until a Congressman's son committed suicide. Rep. Bart Stupak says his 17-year-old son's suicide earlier this year may be linked to the popular acne medicine. Bart Stupak Jr., known as "B.J.," shot himself in the head with his father's gun in the early hours of May 14. Stupak was popular in school, a football player, and killed himself after a prom-night party.
In assessing how many potential suicide cases could be linked to Accutane, Rep. Stupak stated, "We are up over 100 reports, that's just what is coming in to us, so I believe there are probably over a thousand cases," Stupak said. "The average time is 88 days from when you start taking it, and the effect is very sudden.... You are doing strange things at 3 a.m. and you are dead at 7 a.m."
The FDA has received reports of 66 suicides and 1,373 cases of psychiatric problems among Accutane users as of early December, 2000 according to a report in USA Today. Accutane's package warning first stated potential relationship between Accutane and depression in 1986. Although French officials required that Hoff-LaRoche add the risk of suicide to the package insert of the European version of Accutane in March 1997, the FDA did not require such a change in the USA until 1999.
EDIT: Apparently, there are numerous law firms all over the country who are asking for feedback from Accutane users. They are trying to establish a class-action lawsuit. What I seem to notice is they are asking for feedback from anyone who has taken Accutane, and what types of health problems they now have from it. I would think a time-span would also be involved in the burden of proof aspect (such as someone took Accutane 10 years ago, but was just diagnosed with MS this year. That would be a real tough one to prove a connection.) But, you never know!