Claiming to act on behalf of all Quebecers who have developed
some form of inflammatory bowel disease as a result of taking the
drug Accutane, Mr. Yann Lebrasseur filed a motion seeking
certification of a class action. However, on June 27, 2013, the
Quebec Superior Court refused to allow the action to proceed.
In his motion, Mr. Lebrasseur alleged that he developed
Crohn's disease as a result of taking Accutane. He accused the
manufacturer, Hoffmann-La Roche Limited, of placing a dangerous
product on the market and of failing to properly warn health
professionals and consumers about the risks associated with
The product monograph prepared by the manufacturer and approved
by Health Canada did mention numerous undesirable side effects of
the drug, more particularly, the risk of inflammatory bowel
Justice Savard of the Quebec Superior Court dismissed the motion
on the ground that the facts alleged did not seem to justify the
conclusions sought and thus the action did not satisfy the test of
Article 1003(b) C.C.P.
Mr. Lebrasseur did not file any scientific articles showing or
suggesting any causal link between the use of the drug and the
onset of Crohn's disease. Moreover, the Court found that the
undesirable side effects of Accutane had been properly disclosed by
the manufacturer in its monograph. Justice Savard observed that Mr.
Lebrasseur had simply alleged a causal relationship between taking
Accutane and the onset of Crohn's disease without providing any
The Court also considered whether the claims of the members of
the proposed group raised identical, similar or related questions
of law or fact, within the meaning of Article 1003(a) C.C.P.
Justice Savard pointed out that certain questions are more
individual in nature. For example, she mentioned the dosage and the
duration of treatment for each patient, the nature of each
member's disease, differing risk factors among patients, the
information communicated by the treating physicians about the risks
associated with the drug and the validity of the patients'
consent to take the drug. She also observed that the amount of
moral and compensatory damages was an individual issue.
On the other hand, questions relating to the marketing of the
product or the manufacturer's failure to discharge its duty to
warn are common issues.
This decision confirms that the petitioner must have a personal
claim in order to bring a class action and that, to be certified, a
class action must be supported by solid evidence, not just vague,
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