Accutane, alternatively called isotretinoin, is an effective medication utilized for tackling severe acne cases, including cystic acne, acne vulgaris, and moderate to severe acne unresponsive to alternative therapies. Belonging to the retinoid group, derivatives of vitamin A, it has shown success in decreasing the incidence and intensity of acne flare-ups.

However, before starting a treatment course with Accutane, it is important to consult a healthcare professional to determine if it is the right option for you. Your doctor will consider the severity of your acne and any other underlying health conditions you may have. Additionally, while Accutane can produce significant improvement in the appearance of the skin, it is important to understand the potential side effects and precautions associated with its use.

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Accutane and its influence on the skin

What is Accutane? Accutane is a medication designed to treat severe forms of nodular acne and contains the active ingredient Isotretinoin. The drug belongs to the group of retinoids, which means that it is a form of vitamin A. Originally developed by Roche Holding AG as a chemotherapy medication, Accutane was later found to be effective in treating acute acne and is now marketed as such.

What is the mechanism of action of Accutane? Accutane works by reducing the amount of oil produced by the skin’s glands and promoting faster skin renewal, thereby reducing the appearance of blemishes. It is important to note that a consultation with a medical professional is always necessary before taking this drug, which is typically prescribed when antibiotics or milder acne medications have been ineffective. Nodular acne is characterized by red, swollen bumps under the skin, which can be as large as a quarter of an inch. If left untreated, nodular acne can result in severe scarring.

Selecting the right dosage for safe treatment

The appropriate Accutane dosage must be determined by a physician based on the severity of the condition and the patient’s overall health. The standard dosage of Accutane is 0.5-1.0 mg per kg of body weight, taken in two divided doses with meals, with a typical treatment duration of 15 to 20 weeks. Taking the drug in a single daily dose is not recommended as its safety is unclear. Dosages lower than 0.5 mg/kg are discouraged as they increase the likelihood of requiring additional treatment despite initially providing satisfactory results. In cases of severe adult acne with scarring, the dosage may be increased to 2.0 mg per kg of body weight if lower dosages were ineffective and there are no contraindications or signs of adverse reactions.

Accutane pills should be swallowed whole with food to ensure proper absorption, without being chewed or crushed. The initial dosage may be adjusted by the physician during treatment, depending on the patient’s response to the medication. The treatment should not be extended beyond the recommended duration or the dosage increased without consulting a doctor. In some cases, when there is significant improvement in the condition, the treatment may be discontinued before the patient completes 15 to 20 weeks of Accutane therapy.

Are there any contraindications to taking Accutane?

Before deciding to take any medication, it’s important to take a closer look at all the potential contraindications to avoid any problems in the future. When it comes to Accutane, the first essential step is to check the list of the ingredients to determine whether there are any active (Isotretinoin) or inactive ingredients that can cause you to experience allergic reactions.

Before taking this medication, you should provide your healthcare professional with the detailed information regarding any recent surgeries and the overall state of your health. After a physical examination and a consultation, your medical advisor will be able to decide whether Accutane is the drug that will be beneficial in your particular situation.

The conditions that you should be especially careful with when taking Accutane, include:

  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • High levels of cholesterol
  • A history of mental issues and depression
  • Any eating disorders
  • Asthma
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Various intestinal problems and inflammations
  • Liver diseases
  • Diabetes

These are some of the most common problems that can be aggravated by the use of Accutane, which is why it’s important to mention all of your possible health issues so that your doctor can assess the risks of taking this drug.

Avoid taking Accutane during pregnancy

One of the biggest contraindications to taking Accutane is pregnancy, which means that all females should make sure that they are not pregnant and don’t plan on becoming pregnant while taking this drug. The reason why the drug should never be consumed during pregnancy is that even a single pill can lead to severe Accutane birth defects in babies.

All women who want to undergo the treatment using Accutane have to take a pregnancy test a month before starting to take this drug to ensure that it is negative. Besides that, this process is repeated before each refill, and you have to continue using your birth control methods for a month after you stop taking Accutane. It should be noted that even women with tied tubes have to use birth control during the treatment.

To prevent the possibility of women becoming pregnant while taking the medication, all female patients are required to use at least two forms of birth control (primary and secondary) during their treatment. For instance, a woman may choose to use birth control pills that contain estrogen (primary protection) in combination with a male condom with spermicidal gel (secondary protection). Progesterone mini pills that do not include estrogen should not be used as a birth control method, as they may not provide an adequate level of protection while taking Accutane.

All of these precautions are taken to exclude any possibility of becoming pregnant. If you happen to have unprotected sex while you take Accutane, you should stop taking the drug immediately and get in touch with your medical advisor.

You should not consume Accutane if you’re breastfeeding without consulting your healthcare specialist as it is still unclear whether the drug passes into breast milk.

Important drug interactions to keep in mind

Drug interactions should never be taken lightly as consuming the medications that do not go well together may increase the risk of potential adverse reactions or simply make one or several drugs that you take less effective. Before taking Accutane, make sure to mention all the drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements that you may be taking at that moment to your doctor.

Here are some of the herbs, vitamin, and medications you’re advised to avoid if you’re consuming Accutane:

  • Tetracyclines
  • Vitamin A
  • Phenytoin
  • Systematic corticosteroids
  • John’s Wort herb

When it comes to Accutane and alcohol, the consumption of alcoholic beverages may increase the risk of experiencing adverse reactions, such as skin redness, fast heartbeats, nausea, and vomiting. In such a way, it is recommended to avoid drinking alcohol while undergoing the treatment.

What are the possible adverse effects of taking Accutane?

When taking any medications, it’s important to realize that they are always accompanied by the risk of potential adverse effects, which can be caused by the drug interactions, individual sensitivity to the components, overdosing, and other factors, including the diseases that are already present. When it comes to Accutane for acne side effects they can range from mild to quite severe, so you should never increase the dosage of the drug on your own, and if you notice any unusual symptoms, inform your doctor without hesitation.

The minor and common Accutane side effects include:

  • Mild headache
  • Skin sensitivity and dryness
  • Eye dryness
  • Upset stomach

Quite common, but more severe adverse effects of taking Accutane are:

  • Nosebleed
  • Redness and burning of the lips
  • Different types of eye inflammations
  • Joint pain

While some of the mentioned symptoms may seem tolerable, you should still inform a healthcare specialist about them, as you may require an adjustment of the dosage. It ensures that you don’t develop Accutane long term side effects, which will be much more difficult to treat.

In some cases, the consumption of Accutane may lead to major adverse effects, which are usually the result of an irresponsible approach to taking the drug and not following all the safety precautions.

The severe side effects of Accutane include:

  • Birth defects, if a woman doesn’t use birth control and gets pregnant
  • Thoughts of suicide in patients suffering from depression
  • Vision and hearing changes
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Gums inflammation or bleeding
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Pancreatitis

To decrease the risk of these adverse effects, patients are required to pass a number of tests to determine the levels of liver enzymes, blood lipids, glucose, and some others, before starting the treatment. Other laboratory tests may be required depending on the patients’ complaints and their history of diseases.

Reasons for Accutane lawsuit

Accutane, introduced to the market by Roche Pharmaceuticals in 1982, has been a widely used medication for the treatment of acne. However, it is also well known for the Accutane lawsuits that led the company to discontinue production of the drug in 2009. In fact, there were multiple lawsuits against the company, some of which are still ongoing. Many patients who have filed suits against Roche claim to have suffered from long-lasting adverse effects linked to the use of Accutane. The main reason cited for these lawsuits is that the pharmaceutical company did not adequately inform patients of the potential side effects of the drug, such as Crohn’s disease, depression, and bowel inflammation, which are now widely recognized.

The discontinuation of Accutane coincided with the expiration of its patent, and there are now multiple generic versions of the drug available under different names, but all containing the same active ingredient, Isotretinoin.

Is generic Accutane different from the original option?

As previously stated, the original brand-name Accutane is no longer available, and all current medications for acne treatment containing the same active and inactive components are now generic versions. Generic drugs are created by different manufacturers once the patent safeguarding the original medication expires, allowing for more than one producer to manufacture the medication.

Some people may be skeptical about generics, but if you choose a reputable manufacturer, there is no need for concern. The benefits of high-quality generics include the ability to save money while achieving the same results as the original medication. According to regulations for generics, they must contain the same ingredients to ensure the same outcomes. However, the packaging design and drug name must be different, as they are protected by copyright law and cannot be replicated by any company other than the original producer.

This applies to Accutane as well, and you will not find generics under this specific name, even though it is the same medication. According to generic Accutane reviews, people who have previously taken the brand-name version of the drug have not noticed any difference in efficacy, but it is always important to find a reliable provider to ensure the quality of the medication.

Accutane storage requirements

Proper storage of the medication is crucial to ensure its safety and efficacy. Improper storage conditions can result in early drug expiration and potential side effects when taken. Accutane should be stored at room temperature (60 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit) in a closed container and away from direct sunlight, moisture, and heat. It is also important to keep it in a location that is inaccessible to children and pets. If you notice any changes in the appearance of the pills, they should be discarded and not used in your treatment.


The information presented here about Accutane, its usage, and dosages, is intended for educational purposes. We do not assume responsibility for the specifics provided in this article and urge you to seek advice from a healthcare professional if you are considering taking this medication. A physician can accurately evaluate your medical history and determine if Accutane is appropriate for you. Using this drug without a physical examination and consultation with a doctor may lead to a range of side effects. This article does not contain all the information required to decide if it is suitable for you.