A New Jersey appeals court decided last week that a trial court should reconsider whether an expert should be allowed to testify in a lawsuit alleging the Accutane acne drug causes depression. And the move, which comes as part of long-standing litigation over the issue, may cause some controversy. The New Jersey trial court, where hundreds of lawsuits allege Accutane is tied to depression, had ruled that Emory University professorDoug Bremner should not be allowed to offer expert testimony due to what was considered a flawed study. His study was funded by Accutane plaintiffs and lawyers, and published in a peer-reviewed article in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2005. Accutane, by the way, was withdrawn last year, although generics are still available.
Using positron emission tomography scans, Bremner found metabolic changes in the brains of acne patients treated with Accutane that were not present in those given antibiotics. The area affected was the frontal lobe which is associated with depression, The New Jersey Law Journal writes. Based in part on the study, Bremner provided a report concluding Accutane can cause depression and suicide. Roche, which sold the drug, challenged the report and a subsequent hearing found missing data, inaccurate data and that Bremner failed to follow methodology he claimed to have used. A trial judge decided his study was central to his opinion and dismissed the case.
Now, though, the appeals court decided the study comprised only a portion of Bremner's opinion and he may yet testify, although the study itself won't be introduced (see here). Meanwhile, the Drug & Device Law blog calls the decision "amazing," and labeled the study "junk science" and "litigation-inspired trash," likening it to the scandal over Andrew Wakefield and his autism research in The Lancet (see here). In turn, Bremner writes on his own blog that the study was largely funded by a parent not directly connected with the litigation (although the parent's son committed suicide while on Accutane) and attempts to explain problems with the reported data which, he notes led to a single-line correction, not a retraction.
The links offered in our post, notably the ruling, provide some context, so please take a look. And then tell us what you think...
Did The Court Make A Mistake By Saying Bremner Can Testify?
- No (73%, 93 Votes)
- Yes (27%, 34 Votes)
Total Voters: 127