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Accutane Ulcerative Colitis and Crohns Disease
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Accutane is a form of vitamin A—isotretinoin—that was taken for three to six months to treat severe nodular acne. It worked by reducing the amount of oil released by the oil glands in the patient's skin. Accutane, manufactured by Roche Holding, was also used to treat psoriasis.
Accutane Side Effects
Accutane has been linked to a serious bowel disorder known as inflammatory bowel disease. A study, presented to the American College of Gastroenterology in late 2009, found that patients who took isotretinoin (the generic form of Accutane) had a higher risk of inflammatory bowel disease than patients who did not take the drug.
According to the study, the chance of developing inflammatory bowel disease was 1.68 times higher in patients who used isotretinoin than in those who did not. People who had four or more prescriptions filled had 2.67 times the risk of inflammatory bowel disease. The risk of developing ulcerative colitis was 4.36 times higher in isotretinoin users. However, researchers noted that the study, because it has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal, should be considered preliminary.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) actually refers to two chronic diseases, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. These diseases both cause inflammation of the patient's intestines, although the area affected differs between the two conditions.
Accutane Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease include stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea and rectal bleeding. In patients with IBD, the symptoms will persist longer than they would if they were caused by a less serious health problem.
Inflammatory bowel disease is often confused with irritable bowel syndrome, though the two are very different. Irritable bowel syndrome is does not cause other health problems and is often triggered by certain foods, emotional stress and infections.
A study published in the September 2010 issue of The American Journal of Gastroenterology suggests that there is a link between the use of isotretinoin and development of ulcerative colitis. Researchers noted, "Higher dose of isotretinoin seems to augment this risk."
Accutane and Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease. Patients with ulcerative colitis develop lesions in the epithelial lining of the colon and rectum. Symptoms of ulcerative colitis include abdominal pain and cramping, abdominal sounds, blood and/or pus in the stools, diarrhea, fever, rectal pain and weight loss.
Symptoms ulcerative colitis usually appear within four years of the last time the patient took Accutane. However, it is possible that patients have experienced symptoms of ulcerative colitis but did not realize they needed to go to a doctor. Patients who took Accutane and have developed symptoms of ulcerative colitis should seek medical attention.
Some patients who developed ulcerative colitis required surgery to remove a section of their colon or even their entire colon. Complicating matters is that patients who took Accutane may have been teenagers when they took the drug--typically after first having gone through a failed trial of Tetracycline treatment--and now face a lifetime of complications because of surgery on their colon.
Ulcerative proctitis is a form of ulcerative colitis that is confined to the rectum. For some patients, the only symptom of the disease is rectal bleeding. Other symptoms may include rectal pain and an inability to move the bowels despite an urge to do so.
Crohn's disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease that typically affects the intestines, although it can actually affect any part of the digestive tract. Inflammation caused by Crohn's disease affects deep layers of the intestinal wall, rather than just the lining of the bowel as happens with ulcerative colitis.
Accutane and Crohn's Disease
The most common symptoms of Crohn's disease are diarrhea and abdominal pain. Diarrhea that persists can result in dehydration and blood pressure problems. Other symptoms include constipation, fatigue, loss of appetite, pain when passing stool and weight loss.
Accutane was pulled from the market in June, 2009 by its manufacturer. At the time, Roche said the drug was being withdrawn due to market pressure.
Accutane is sold generically as isotretinoin and also under the names Amnesteem, Claravis and Sotret. Before its patent expired, Accutane reportedly had sales of $200 million a year.
Accutane has also been linked to other serious side effects.
In February, 2009, Roche Holding AG was ordered to pay $25.16 million in damages to a former Accutane user who said his use of the drug resulted in inflammatory bowel disease. A jury reached the verdict at a retrial after a previous $2.62 million award to the plaintiff was overturned. According to Bloomberg (02/16/10), the plaintiff, Andrew McCarrell, said he became ill after taking Accutane in 1995. McCarrell reportedly required five surgeries, including one surgery in which his colon was removed.
Bloomberg notes that McCarrell's verdict was the largest of six Accutane-related lawsuits, in which plaintiffs won a total of $56 million. Plaintiffs in all cases alleged Roche did not adequately warn Accutane users about the risks associated with the drug. Although Roche lost every lawsuit, a Florida appeals court has overturned one of the judgments for $7.2 million. There are still approximately 1,000 other lawsuits regarding Accutane pending.
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Last updated on Apr-3-14
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