Isotretinoin (Accutane) - Side Effects That Need Medical Monitoring By Your Physician
Isotretinion (accutane) is a very controversial drug with supporters who say that the drug has literally changed their lives, and with detractors demonizing the drug as an extremely dangerous drug. A simple search on the internet will quickly expose readers to all sorts of views on it from one extreme to the other.
What is not controversial is that isotretinoin is a powerful drug with an extremely potent effect, and one that can have very serious side-effects. In all cases, a doctor will require regular testing, usually involving blood work to ensure your safety.
The serious side-effects can be roughly divided into these categories.
- Isotretinion is teratogenic-it causes serious fetal abnormalities
- This drug cannot under any circumstance be taken during pregnancy, and 1 month prior to and following pregnancy.
- Pregnancy prevention programs are offered, and participation is likely a requirement for taking this drug.
- A doctor must be consulted.
- Hyperstosis and osteophytes (bony spurns) may develop, but are rarely of any consequence
- Bone thinning (osteoporosis) is a possible risk
- Premature close of bony epiphyses may occur in children, reducing long bone growth
- Cholestorol and triglyceride levels may increase; this should be followed by your doctor
- Pancreatitis is a minor risk
- May be mildly irritating to the liver
- Liver abnormalities are relatively rare, but should be monitored
- Pseudotumors in the cerebrum can occur, causing increased brain fluid pressure, headaches, vomiting, and visual disturbances.
- Depression and suicidal thoughts have been reported in some patients causing controversy, but causal connections have yet to be conclusive.
- Headaches may occur.
- Inflammation around the joints and tendonitis
- Aches and pains around the joints and lower back pain are relatively common
- These effects are temporary and can be minimized by use of anti-inflammatory medications
- Leukopenia (reduced ability to produce white blood cells) may occur, but this is rare