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What is Accutane&Reg;?

Article Details
  • Written By: K.C. Bruning
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Accutane®, the product name for isotretinoin, is used for the treatment of a severe form of acne called recalcitrant nodular. It can also be used for other skin conditions, including skin cancer. The drug is an intense formulation of vitamin A and works by delaying the process that causes blemishes to grow. Accutane® lowers oil production in the skin and aids it in regenerating itself more quickly and efficiently.

This drug is usually prescribed when several other medications and methods have failed to cure acne. It can take several weeks for Accutane® to take full effect. Some patients may even experience more severe acne before seeing an improvement.

Accutane® comes in capsule form. The drug is typically taken during a mealtime, with a full glass of water, two times daily. Capsules must be swallowed whole in order to be effective. Many doctors will start with a base dosage of the drug and increase the amount depending on patient reaction.

While taking Accutane®, patients are usually advised not to take additional vitamin A in order to avoid an overdose. It is also not safe to donate blood while taking the drug. Most doctors suggest waiting 30 days after discontinuing use of Accutane® before giving blood.

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Due to an extremely high risk of birth defects or miscarriage, women who have been prescribed Accutane® are strongly cautioned not to get pregnant while on the drug. Severe birth defects and complications associated with taking Accutane® include early birth, physical problems that are evident in the child at birth, or death a short period after birth. Most prescribing doctors will require that women taking the drug sign a consent form which confirms that the risks are understood and that she will take the necessary precautions to avoid pregnancy, including using two forms of birth control. Dosage and refill prescriptions of the drug are also usually carefully monitored by the doctor in order to ensure the patient is not pregnant before starting another cycle of the drug.

Accutane® can also have an intense effect upon mental health. Users may also become aggressive, irritable, and angry. For this reason, it is important to report all personal and family history of suicidal thoughts, depression, or mental illness. Personal or family suicide attempts should also be disclosed.

Other pre-existing conditions that may prevent or require that the patient be monitored carefully while on Accutane® include osteoporosis, diabetes, and asthma. Conditions such as liver and heart disease, anorexia nervosa and high amounts of triglycerides in the blood can also be problematic. Women who are nursing should not take Accutane®.

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