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Accutane Ulcerative Colitis and Crohns Disease FAQ

What is Accutane?

Accutane is a synthetic form of vitamin A "isotretinoin" that is used to treat severe nodular acne. It is generally used after other acne medications or antibiotics have been used unsuccessfully.

Accutane works by reducing the amount of oil released by the patient's oil glands.

Why is Accutane involved in lawsuits?

Accutane is involved in lawsuits because it has been linked to an increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease.

Is Accutane linked to other side effects?

Yes, Accutane has been linked to an increased risk of birth defects. The risk was so high that patients taking Accutane had to sign a program called iPLEDGE in which female patients of childbearing age who take isotretinoin must guarantee that they are not pregnant prior to starting isotretinoin and will not become pregnant while taking the acne medication. All male and female patients prescribed isotretinoin must register for the program.

What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease? What are the symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a group of inflammatory conditions that occur in the colon and large intestine. Both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are forms of inflammatory bowel disease. Patients with ulcerative colitis develop lesions in their epithelial lining of the colon and rectum. Crohn's disease affects the patient's gastrointestinal tract and the bowel wall.

Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease include pain, cramping, weight loss and bleeding. Furthermore, patients with inflammatory bowel disease suffer from chronically red and swollen intestines.

Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease the same as Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

No. Inflammatory bowel disease involves inflammation of the colon and large intestine. Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional gastrointestinal disorder, which means the patient's bowel does not function properly. Patients with irritable bowel syndrome experience increased contractions of the colon or rectum.

Irritable bowel syndrome is not a disease. It is a collection of symptoms that include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation. Treatment involves dietary changes, medicine and stress relief.

What are the consequences of Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Some patients with inflammatory bowel disease require surgery. In some cases, part or all of the patient's colon is removed.

How is Accutane linked to Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

A study that was presented to the American College of Gastroenterology in 2009 found patients who used isotretinoin had 1.68 times the risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease than patients who did not take isotretinoin. The risk was 2.67 times higher for patients who had four or more isotretinoin prescriptions filled. Finally, the risk of developing ulcerative colitis was 4.26 times higher in patients who used isotretinoin.

Has Accutane been recalled?

In 2009, Accutane was removed from the market at the request of its manufacturer, who said the drug was being removed due to market pressure.

Isotretinoin, however, is still available on the market. Some of the names of generic Accutane include Amnesteem, Claravis and Sotret.

Brand name Accutane is still available in Canada.

What have the court decisions on Accutane found so far?

So far, six Accutane-related lawsuits have gone to court, with plaintiffs winning in all six cases for a total of $56 million. The largest verdict so far was given to plaintiff Andrew McCarrell, who was awarded $25.16 million in his lawsuit.

Although plaintiffs have won all six lawsuits, a Florida appeals court did overturn one of the judgments on appeal. There are still reportedly around 1,000 Accutane lawsuits pending.

What should I do if I am taking generic Accutane?

If you are taking one of the generic versions of Accutane and are concerned about the risks involved, contact a medical professional to discuss your options. Do not discontinue medication without speaking with your doctor.

Who manufactured Accutane?

Accutane was manufactured by Hoffman-LaRoche Inc and Roche Laboratories.
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Last updated on Sep-7-11

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