The cause of death remains undetermined for Bullis senior Camille Baruch, who died suddenly last weekend at her home in Rockville.
The 19-year-old excelled at her schoolwork even though she missed many school days due to her struggle with ulcerative colitis, which caused her to undergo several surgeries, including one that removed her large intestine, family said.
Despite her condition, family said that Baruch was healthy, going out with friends and attending school immediately before her death. She had recently applied to colleges and was hoping for an acceptance letter from Cornell, where her older brother attends school.
Baruch’s mother Annette said that her daughter, known to friends as Cami, had visited the doctor Friday morning after complaining of cold symptoms and congestion.
“We didn’t think it was anything alarming,” Baruch said. “She came home Friday night, took the medicine prescribed to her, went to bed Friday night and never woke up. It was an unbelievable shock.”
Though it’s not clear what caused Baruch’s death, her family believes her ulcerative colitis may have been triggered by a generic form of the anti-acne drug Accutane, which she began taking in eighth grade. In 2012, Cami Baruch was profiled in a New York Times article titled “Generic Drugs Prove Resistant to Damage Claims.” The article detailed the struggles of those who were unable to sue the makers of drugs they say injured them because they took the generic, and not the brand-name, version of the medication.
Baruch’s family sued the makers of the generic versions of Accutane she took in 2010, according to the article, but her lawyers told The Times that the suit would likely be thrown out. According to the report, dozens of similar lawsuits against the makers of generic drugs were dismissed after the Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that the companies “did not have control over what their labels said and therefore could not be sued for failing to alert patients about the risks of taking their drugs.”
Thousands have sued Accutane manufacturer Roche claiming that the drug caused their inflammatory bowel disease, and some have been awarded damages in the millions, according to the report.
“I lost everything,” Baruch told The Times. “That is not a reason enough that these people aren’t to blame.”
Click here to read the full article from The Times.
Annette Baruch said her daughter had become an advocate for those struggling with a similar plight, working with the Alliance for Justice to raise awareness.
Baruch remembered her daughter as an excellent student with a sarcastic sense of humor.
“She was smart as a whip, and she had a memory just like an elephant—she never forgot. We would joke whenever we needed to remember something we’d say, ‘Cami, remember this.’ ”
Before her daughter became sick, Baruch said her life revolved around sports. She played basketball, softball and soccer.
“That was her identity,” Baruch said. “She loved to play sports and after she got sick she never got healthy enough to get back.”
On a memorial Facebook page that had garnered nearly 1,000 “likes” by Friday, friends remembered her for her sense of humor and bright smile.
“A beautiful girl with tremendous courage and strength,” wrote commenter Debbie Adler Myers via the Facebook page. “Our hearts are broken at such a tragic loss.”
A memorial service is set for 3 p.m. Wednesday at Temple Beth Ami, 14330 Travilah Road in North Potomac. Those who plan to attend should arrive between 2:30 p.m. and 2:45 p.m.