TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - The family of a Florida
teen-ager who flew a stolen plane into a Tampa office tower filed a
$70 million wrongful death lawsuit against drug maker Hoffman-La
Roche on Tuesday, alleging the company's Accutane acne medicine
caused the boy to commit suicide.
Charles Bishop, 15, killed himself on Jan. 5 when
he crashed the single-engine Cessna into the 28th floor of the
42-story Bank of America building, an incident that echoed the Sept.
11 assaults on New York and Washington. He left a note expressing
sympathy for Islamic militant Osama bin Laden.
The lawsuit, filed in Hillsborough County Circuit
Court, said Hoffman-La Roche, the Nutley, New Jersey-based U.S unit
of Accutane manufacturer Roche Holding, negligently made an unsafe
product that can cause psychosis, depression and suicide and failed
to warn patients about side effects.
"Our suit alleges that Hoffman-La Roche has known
that this drug causes spontaneous suicide and depression but they
have refused to accept responsibility," said attorney Michael Ryan,
who represents Julia Bishop, the boy's mother.
Hoffman-La Roche said it had not seen the lawsuit
and would not comment on specific litigation. But it said there was
no scientific basis to link Accutane with depression or
A coroner's report said Charles Bishop had no
alcohol or drugs in his system when he died. Medical examiners
tested for Accutane after police found a prescription for the
medication in Bishop's home, but found no trace of it.
The lawsuit alleged Accutane caused Bishop to
suffer a severe psychotic break with reality that resulted in his
Bishop's attorneys said international health
agencies have recorded more than 500 reports of suicides, attempted
suicide and "suicidal ideation" from Accutane, the fourth highest
record of adverse drug reactions among more than 500,000
prescription medications sold in the United States.
"His friends, his teachers, his flight instructors
say there were no warning signs," Ryan said, adding he hoped the
company would pull the drug from the market.
An article in the March-April 2001 issue of FDA
Consumer, a magazine published by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration, said Accutane was the most powerful medicine
developed for problem acne. But it noted that "while Accutane may
help lift psychosocial distress such as embarrassment, evidence
suggests that it may actually cause serious psychiatric disorders in
Hoffman-La Roche spokeswoman Carolyn Glynn said
more than 13 million people had safely used Accutane since
She said the company had worked with the FDA and
experts to examine allegations of links between Accutane and
"It's our conclusion, along with the outside
experts and the FDA, that there is no scientific basis that links
Accutane with depression or suicide," Glynn said.
Last Thursday a jury in Muskogee, Oklahoma,
rejected a woman's claim that Accutane caused her to suffer
Carla Gray of Ada, Oklahoma, had sought $3 million
in compensatory damages from Hoffmann-La Roche.