Category Accutane


Isotretinoin (trade name: Accutane) is a powerful drug used in the treatment of acne. Four to five months of Accutane treatment usually leads to clearing of acne. It is a potent medication that is very effective for nearly all types of breakouts. Accutane is needed for moderate to severe acne that has failed other treatments. It should be used for a severe, scarring acne. Is also used for acne present for many years that has not respond completely to antibiotic pills and creams. While it has many side effects, in some ways it is safer than long-term antibiotic usage. Most other acne-controlling medicines are antibacterial agents, which are effective only if used daily. Over two million people have taken this drug, so a lot is known about its safety and effectiveness.

Accutane is a naturall...

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How does it work?

Accutane (isotretinoin), or Roaccutane as it is known in parts of the world, was discovered in 1979 when it was first given to patients with severe acne, most of whom reacted with dramatic and permanent clearing of their acne symptoms. It is a vitamin A derivative (13-cis-retinoic acid) that is administered orally in pill form with a meal that contains an adequate amount of fat,1 normally for 15-20 weeks (3.5-4.5 months),2 although it is also sometimes prescribed at lower dosages for up to six months or longer. It was originally recommended for people with severe acne that did not respond to other treatments,3 but has gained in popularity in the past 25 years and is prescribed more and more frequently for less severe acne...

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High Risks


Accutane (isotretinoin) must not be used by female patients who are or may become pregnant. There is an extremely high risk that severe birth defects will result if pregnancy occurs while taking Accutane (isotretinoin) in any amount, even for short periods of time. Potentially any fetus exposed during pregnancy can be affected. There are no accurate means of determining whether an exposed fetus has been affected.

Birth defects which have been documented following Accutane (isotretinoin) exposure include abnormalities of the face, eyes, ears, skull, central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and thymus and parathyroid glands. Cases of IQ scores less than 85 with or without other abnormalities have been reported...

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Doctor Warnings

The first prescriptions of Accutane were written in 1982, and a year later came the first report of a baby born with malformations after Accutane was taken during pregnancy. In 1983, there were two “Dear Doctor letters” — special communications the FDA requires drug manufacturers to send out if the drug label is not complete in covering the extent and severity of side effects — sent out, alerting physicians of the possibility of birth defects. From 1984 to 1988, seven more of the letters went out.

Accutane Side Effects Infographic

The FDA was not alone in noting the dangers of Accutane. Dr...

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Uses of Accutane

Accutane is part of a class of medications called retinoids and originally was marketed as a chemotherapy drug. It is known for its ability to treat acne that has not responded to antibiotics. The medication is a derivative of vitamin A and works by controlling the oil in the sebaceous glands. The acne it treats consists of nodules with a diameter or 5 mm or greater. Having this type of acne can be socially debilitating, so the potential of a cure can be life-changing.

Undergoing Accutane treatment is a commitment of time and energy. It can take months to be effective, and patients often must deal with side effects like dry eyes and headaches. In addition, acne may worsen during the beginning stages of treatment before it starts to clear up.

Doses of Accutane range from 0.5 to 1...

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Before Taking Accutane

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking Accutane?

Accutane is available only under a special program called iPLEDGE. You must be registered in the program and sign documents stating that you understand the dangers of this medication and that you agree to use birth control as required by the program. Ask your doctor or call the drug maker if you have questions about the program or the written requirements.

It is dangerous to try and purchase Accutane on the Internet or from vendors outside of the United States. The sale and distribution of Accutane outside of the iPLEDGE program violates the regulations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the safe use of this medication.

Do not use this medication if you are allergic to isotretinoin or to parabens, or if you...

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Accutane Overview

Accutane (marketed outside the U.S. as Roaccutane) is an oral acne medication, Isotretinoin.

Accutane is mostly reserved for severe cases of acne because of its many potential side effects.

Accutane side effects are well publicized. Accutane has been associated with depression, thoughts of suicide and even some reports of suicide.

Dermatologists are required to inform their patients about the side effects before treating. Additionally, Accutane can affect body organs.

Accutane is a teratogen (can cause birth defects) so it is critical that females do not get pregnant while taking–or for many months–following Accutane therapy.

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