There are a lot of medications on the market to “cure” acne. Some are not as bad as others but some, like Accutane (Isotretinoin), should not be taken. The side effects are scary!
The drug works for severe (cystic) acne, providing long-lasting and sometimes complete reduction of acne for 80 percent of patients. However, clear skin may be accompanied by serious side effects like Crohn’s disease (this has also been reported to cause problems long after the person has stopped taking the drug), birth defects and suicide. And, once you stop taking it, the acne may come back because you have not fixed the problem.
These are some common side effects associated with taking this medication:
- Diminished night vision
- Increased bone injuries due to thickened or weakened bones
- Increased reaction to UV exposure
- Red, cracked or sore lips
- Changes in nails
- Peeling skin
- Unusual hair growth or loss
- Bleeding or swollen gums
- Voice changes
- Slow healing of cuts or sores
- Cold symptoms
- Dry skin and eyes
- Muscle aches
In 2005, the FDA posted the following symptoms that can be accompanied with Accutane and should be closely watched for…
- suicidal tendencies
- short tempers
- loss of social interaction
- loss of motivation
- changes in appetite
If any of those symptoms appear, the person is advised to seek professional help immediately.
After numerous reports of negative effects and doctors started to realize the potential dangers, Roche recalled Accutane in 2009. Now, only generic brands are available (Amnesteen, Claravis and Sotret — are still available). Roche claimed they did not recall it based on safety concerns but because the market had become saturated with the generic brands (if they were still making money though…). Accutane has now been recalled in 11 other countries.
The FDA gave Accutane a pregnancy rating of X, which means it should not be taken during pregnancy because there is evidence of fetal abnormalities when it is used during pregnancy. In 2006, a strict system was put in place, called the i-PLEDGE program. The computer-based system required registration by pharmacies, doctors and patients. Within the system, negative pregnancy tests from approved labs were periodically required before medication was dispensed, prescriptions only covered 30 days at a time, and users were required to utilize two types of birth control.
Is that enough? Do you still want to take this drug? Bottom line is you have got to fix the problem by using the right skin care products. I don’t care what medication you are taking, it will not fix the problem forever. Once you stop, the acne often comes back. If it doesn’t come back, it is only because your hormones have calmed down and your skin was improving anyway. But if you talk to most people on these medications, you will find that they are on it more than once, usually several times.