Court rejects pharma group's bid to stop case

By MARY CAROLAN, The Irish Times, 8th May 2008


THE SUPREME Court has upheld a decision by the High Court and rejected a bid by a pharmaceutical group to stop a father bringing a case against it alleging wrongful death following the death by suicide of his 20-year-old son.

Liam Grant claims his son Liam's death by suicide was a side effect of his use, for the treatment of acne, of the drug Roaccutane, manufactured by RP Scherer Ltd, based in England, and promoted and distributed here by Roche Products (Ireland) Ltd.

Mr Grant (60) of Wainsfort Manor Drive, Terenure, Dublin, suing on his own behalf and on behalf of other family members, initiated proceedings against Roche Products (Ireland) Ltd, RP Scherer, a number of other Roche companies, the Irish Medicines Board and a consultant dermatologist who prescribed the drug Roaccutane to Mr Grant's son. The defendants deny the claims.

Mr Grant alleges that the death by suicide of his son on June 15th, 1997, was linked to the Roche group's negligence in the manufacturing of the drug and in its alleged failure to give proper advice and warnings in respect of its use. It is claimed a side effect of the drug is depression and that Liam became depressed from taking it and died by suicide.

Delivering the court's decision yesterday, Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman said the constitutional right to life of Liam Grant jnr could be vindicated only by hearing, in accordance with law, his father's claim that his son's death was caused by the "wrongdoing" of the defendants and by the court accepting or rejecting that claim after a proper hearing.

He rejected arguments by the defendants that the vindication of personal rights is a matter only for criminal or regulatory law and not for civil law.