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Archive for Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Suicide pilot’s mother blames acne drug

April 17, 2002

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— The family of a 15-year-old boy who crashed a stolen plane into a Tampa high-rise is suing the maker of the acne drug Accutane for $70 million, accusing the medicine of prompting her son's suicide.

The lawsuit filed Monday claims the drug caused severe psychosis in Charles Bishop, who died Jan. 5 and left a note expressing sympathy for Osama bin Laden and supporting the Sept. 11 attacks.

In an interview aired Tuesday by NBC's "Today" show, the boy's mother, Julia Bishop, said her son had showed no signs of depression.

"This child was a happy, well-balanced, forward-thinking child who had a great deal to live for," Bishop said. "This was psychotic and the only conclusion we have been able to draw is the Accutane poisoned him."

A Hoffmann-La Roche spokeswoman said the company was unaware of the lawsuit, but the company does not believe the drug is dangerous.

Accutane carries a warning about suicide, but the company points to statistics showing sufferers of severe acne and teen-agers the main users of the drug generally have higher suicide rates.

"We continue, as do the experts, to believe there is no link," said company spokeswoman Carolyn Glynn.

The Food and Drug Administration says 147 people taking Accutane either committed suicide or were hospitalized for suicide attempts from 1982 to May 2000. An estimated 13 million patients have used Accutane since its debut in 1982.

An autopsy found no trace of Accutane in Bishop's blood, but attorneys for the family say so much blood was lost in the crash that the test may not have been useful.

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