Accutane Causes Health Concerns

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

August 22, 2006

It is considered one of the most effective treatments for severe acne, but new studies are raising concerns because of its side effects. Researchers found Accutane produced abnormal results for cholesterol and liver function.

"For some people who have such severe nodulocystic acne, Accutane may be the only thing that will help them, help their skin," said Dr. Julia Padgett, a University of Virginia Dermatologist.

However, the powerful acne pill comes with side effects. Researchers tested more than 13,000 patients on the medication and found abnormal results for cholesterol and liver function were more common than once expected.

However, Dr. Julia Padgett said this doesn't mean people taking the drug will develop heart or liver problems.

"These are short term effects. These lab abnormalities are present only while someone is taking Accutane and once the Accutane is stopped, they go away pretty quickly," said Dr. Padgett.

However, this isn't the first time questions were raised about the pill. Accutane is already known to cause birth defects. That's why in March the FDA began requiring patients and doctors to be registered and monitored when they are taking or prescribing the drug.

Most dermatologists already know about the possibility of problems. It's up to the patients to decide.

"With each individual patient it's usually an analysis between the risks potentially from taking the medication and then the potential benefits," said Dr. Padgett.

While it may not change the dermatologists’ opinion of the drug, Dr. Pagett knows elevated levels are something to lookout for.

Doctors believe further studies need to be done to find out the long-term effects of Accutane.

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