Accutane: Acne Breakthrough or Patient's Worst Mistake?


| 8 Comments

            For most of you acne sufferers out there, I'm sure you've heard of Accutane.  It's a long, sometimes painful process that seems to be a 50/50 shot in the end when it comes to seeing results.  So is it really worth the 6 months of intense medication?

            First, let me mention just a few of the 43 side effects of this so-called acne curer.  For the common, yet not necessarily "serious reactions," the list includes pain and swelling of the lips, alopecia (hair thinning, baldness), vision problems, peeling skin, nosebleeds, joint pain, muscle pain, back pain, and depression. 

If that wasn't enough to scare you, let me give you a few of the actually serious reactions (please remember some are for males or females only).  How does erectile dysfunction, violent/aggressive behavior, seizures, strokes, cataracts, birth defects, swelling pressure in the brain, liver damage, a rapid and deadly allergic reaction, osteoporosis, and suicidal attempts?

accutane.jpg

Because of the chance of birth defects, females on this medication have to prove once a month for 7 months (an extra month, one before the start of the doses) by having blood drawn.  In addition, they must take an online test every month to show they remember that there are dangers with pregnancy and Accutane. 

The entire purpose of Accutane is to reduce the amount of oil being released.  It sounds like a great idea until you hear or experience the list of side effects.  I was on Accutane my freshman year of high school and experienced extreme dry skin and lips, hair loss, vision loss (that has still been affected me), peeling skin, nosebleeds, back pain, aggressive behavior, stomach pain, and loss of the ability to concentrate.  I had to take aspirin to make it through track practice and dropped my grades because I couldn't pay attention in class.  Some of the side effects are similar to those of alcohol- aggressive behavior, liver damage, headaches, stomachaches, depression, and suicidal attempts.  So with all this happening to so many Accutane users, should doctors be prescribing it?  Even further, should this drug even be legal?  

 

Sources: http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/archives/fdaDrugInfo.cfm?archiveid=10663 http://www.accutanesideeffects.net

8 Comments

I have never been on Accutane so I can't vouch for the results or side effects, but my best friend in high school was. She has actually used it on two separate occasions. The first time she found results but a while after she went off it her acne came back. From a outsider point of view I would say Accutane is a last resort. For those who suffer acne and have tried every possible treatment under the sun with no positive results they are very frustrated and discouraged.

Here is a list of linked cases by the FDA from accutane and side effects, as well as actual lawsuits.

http://www.drugwatch.com/accutane/lawsuit.php

I took isotretinoin my junior year of high school and I have to say, it saved my life. The use of Accutane has actually been banned for years and replaced with isotretinoin, so it's not accurate to refer to it as such.

The only side effects I suffered from while using isotretinoin was dry skin and lips. Besides that, I was happy. My skin cleared up and by taking this drug, I prevented extreme acne scaring on my face. This drug is extreme, and definitely a last resort. But, for those who really need it, the side effects are worth the result. Isotretinoin essentially shrinks your oil glands so they stop producing oil which prevents acne from every coming up again. One of the side effects I loved was that my hair never got greasy!

When I started taking isotretinoin, I was terrified after reading online blogs about "accutane horror stories". But my dermatologist explained to me that these stories are rare and that over time the drug has been improved to lessen the harmful side effects. I trusted her and proceeded with my 6 months of treatment. I now have flawless skin, and I have this drug to thank for it.

"Isotretinoin" is the scientific name for this medicine and "Accutane" is a brand name or "street name," as some call it. It is not banned because I know people that are on it right now. Although not everyone suffers all of the side effects, there is still a possibility for anyone who decides to start using it. It depends on how your body reacts.

Most people taking this medication have disastrous results. No one is guaranteed to have flawless skin at the end of this regimen. I had just as bad acne when it was over as I did when it started. And even for those who are lucky enough to get rid of their acne using Accutane, a lot of times it even comes back, which forces a lot of patients to go back on it. I was directed by my doctor to use it again after 6 months of no improvement. At that point I found a new doctor who actually treated me and didn't just put me Accutane for the sake of it. Even if Accutane is used as a last resort, which in my case it was, it still doesn't eliminate all of the risks that comes along with taking it.

Accutane is a miserable medication that, even when used as a last resort, still causes horrible side effects for most patients, and in a lot of cases, it does not work, or it will work during the 6 months and then allow acne to come back.

I almost went on Accutane, and after reading your blog post I am so thankful that I didn't. I had really bad acne all throughout middle school and high school. I went to several different dermatologists and they all gave me different medications and creams and none of them worked. My skin would get either really dry or really oily and it seemed like there was no stopping it. I finally went to an incredible dermatologist who knew how to solve the problem right away: Accutane. I was hesitant because she said it would have side effects, especially the dry skin part. I read the pamphlet and thought about it and decided I would ask about other options. She told me about other medications, which I took, and they solved the problem. I don't think Accutane is a good solution to acne. There are several other things that you can do to help your skin, and destroying it first should be one. It has too many side effects that seriously damage your health and I don't think that dermatologists should use it as a first choice for patients. The question of legality is different. I think it can be legal because it doesn't do anything extremely horrible to patients, but it should definitely not be the first thing patients with bad acne should jump to.

My sister suffered from very bad acne in adult life and was put on Acutane, long before the class-action suits. The regiment took quite a toll on her, she had some of the side-effects including hair-loss and wasn't allowed to drive for a while. However after six months she was done and had flawless skin, and hasn't had a pimple in almost 8 years.

Given the success-rate, but also the widely reported possible side-effects, I chose to go on a different medication, Retin-A, which has had very good results for me with no noticed negative side-effects.

Having taken this class however, I now realise that my decision was not based on clear assessment of risk. I Simply heard the anecdotal negative stories and chose not to take the chance. I wonder what the relative risk (maybe to chance of a dying in a car) would have to be for most people to decide to use the drug.

My sister suffered from very bad acne in adult life and was put on Acutane, long before the class-action suits. The regiment took quite a toll on her, she had some of the side-effects including hair-loss and wasn't allowed to drive for a while. However after six months she was done and had flawless skin, and hasn't had a pimple in almost 8 years.

Given the success-rate, but also the widely reported possible side-effects, I chose to go on a different medication, Retin-A, which has had very good results for me with no noticed negative side-effects.

Having taken this class however, I now realise that my decision was not based on clear assessment of risk. I Simply heard the anecdotal negative stories and chose not to take the chance. I wonder what the relative risk (maybe to chance of a dying in a car) would have to be for most people to decide to use the drug.

I think it's important to look into how often the side effects occur, which you didn't really talk about here. I'm not sure that there is information out there because I'm having trouble finding any, but that'd be something worth noting.

Also, does it do anything else other than clear up your skin? I can't find anything other than to treat acne, as this website states.

Unless the acne is so severe that it is actually a danger to you, I wouldn't do it. Maybe I'm biased because I've never dealt with THAT severe of acne, but I don't think I would risk my life just to be socially acceptable. It also depends on the actual chance of those side effects occurring though, because if the chances are low it might be worth it (especially considering everything I've read says it's used mainly for nodular acne, which can be very painful).

I think it's important to look into how often the side effects occur, which you didn't really talk about here. I'm not sure that there is information out there because I'm having trouble finding any, but that'd be something worth noting.

Also, does it do anything else other than clear up your skin? I can't find anything other than to treat acne, as this website states.

Unless the acne is so severe that it is actually a danger to you, I wouldn't do it. Maybe I'm biased because I've never dealt with THAT severe of acne, but I don't think I would risk my life just to be socially acceptable. It also depends on the actual chance of those side effects occurring though, because if the chances are low it might be worth it (especially considering everything I've read says it's used mainly for nodular acne, which can be very painful).

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