Accutane Side Effects – Suicide, Birth Defects, Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Accutane, a synthetic form of vitamin A used to treat severe acne, has been the subject of much controversy and litigation due to serious side effects including severe inflammatory bowel disease, birth defects, suicide, depression, psychiatric disorders, and the potential for violence in patients taking it, as well as a long list of less serious side effects.

Patients have reported both inflammatory bowel disease and lupus after using Accutane. Some possible symptoms to watch for are:

  • Stomach, chest, or bowel pain
  • Rectal bleeding or serious or bloody diarrhea
  • Pain or difficulty swallowing
  • Increased heartburn
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Dark urine
  • Bad headache or dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Bone problems
  • Hearing loss
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting
  • Increased thirst or urination
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty moving
  • Leg swelling
  • Increased cholesterol or triglycerides in blood

If you suffer these side effects you should seek medical help immediately. Blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides should be monitored during treatment with Accutane.

There have also been reports of suicides, suicidal thoughts, and other psychiatric disorders in patients taking Accutane since 1985. The FDA has required stronger warning on several occasions. Symptoms of these problems can include:

  • Depression
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Change of sleep patterns
  • Loss of appetite
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Suicide attempts
  • Seizures

Patients taking Accutane should be carefully monitored for these symptoms and should contact a health care provider immediately if they occur.

The harm to infants whose mothers have taken Accutane during the pregnancy or shortly before getting pregnant is so clear that both the manufacturer, Hoffman La Roche, and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have worked to create programs to make sure that patients taking the drug do not become pregnant. These efforts have not been successful and both pregnancies and birth defects continue to occur.

At least one study has also linked Accutane to increased levels of tryglycerides, cholesterol, and transaminase. Less serious potential Accutane side effects include:

  • Increased risk of sunburn
  • Increased risk of scarring
  • Decreased night vision

Accutane should not be taken with several kinds of other medications, which might increase the risks of side effects. You should tell your health care providers all the medications and supplements you’re taking before deciding to take Accutane. With all the concerns about birth defects and emphasis on birth control, you should be aware that Accutane may interfere with the effectiveness of birth control pills that do not contain estrogen.

Check out the following articles for more information about Accutane, filing an Accutane lawsuit and finding an Accutane attorney.

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