Since the 1980s, over 16 million acne sufferers found hope in a medication called Accutane, also known by the chemical name isotretinoin and generic names Claravis, Amnesteem and Sotret. Unfortunately, many of them also found severe injury to internal organs in the form of ulcerative colitis. Others became so depressed that they committed suicide.
In fact, the maker of Accutane, Hoffman-LaRoche, Inc., has settled seven major lawsuits for failing to adequately warn patients about the debilitating side effects caused by the drug. The company has paid out more than $56 million in settlements.
Accutane Side Effects and Recall
The company quietly took the drug off the market in 2009, citing competition by generics. Generic forms of this dangerous drug are still available, made by Barr Laboratories (Claravis), Mylan Pharmaceuticals (Amnesteem), and Ranbaxy Laboratories Inc. (Sotret). These generics warn of side effects including the bowel disorder and other dangerous conditions like organ damage, depression, birth defects and serious skin conditions. The FDA found Accutane responsible for more than 150 suicides, more than 40 infant deaths and hundreds of birth defects.
Ulcerative colitis causes pain and inflammation in the digestive tract, along with ulcers in the lining of the large intestine and rectum. The condition causes bouts of diarrhea, stomach pain and rectal bleeding. There is no cure for the condition and many patients continue to suffer despite stopping the acne medication.
Accutane and Ulcerative Colitis Link Strong
National Cancer Institute says the link between Accutane and ulcerative colitis is strong. The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill studied data from over 8,000 individuals and their insurance plans to find that Accutane made patients four times more likely to develop ulcerative colitis than patients who did not take the drug. Higher doses of Accutane led to higher likelihoods of developing the disease.
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