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Accutane Down the Toilet

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Grand Blanc, MIThe acne treatment drug Accutane has been linked to a litany of side effects, from depression to bowel problems. The latter seems to be the most common, and also a serious side effect. It can lead to Accutane inflammatory bowel disease, Accutane Crohn’s Disease and Accutane Ulcerative Colitis - cause for concern for Cindy. And the former Accutane side effect has just about ruined Chris’s life.

It doesn’t take long for Accutane to take its toll. Cindy took the med in high school but stopped after three months. “I was getting bad headaches and muscle pain, and because I wasn’t taking any other meds and never had these symptoms before, it wasn’t hard connecting Accutane,” she says.

Cindy stayed off Accutane for 18 months, until her acne flared up again. With the next prescription, Cindy, who was of childbearing age, was registered by her dermatologist in the iPLEDGE program because of Accutane’s link to birth defects. “I also had blood tests every month, possibly to make sure I wasn’t pregnant. It was so hard to finish the six-month treatment because it was hard to focus and my whole body was aching,” Cindy explains.

Her dermatologist also asked Cindy if she ever felt depressed - one doctor who had actually read Accutane’s contraindications. Cindy said she would sometimes cry for no apparent reason, but what teenager hasn’t? In Chris’s case, it was more than crying.

“Just three months into taking Accutane (about 10 years ago), I started getting episodes of dread,” says Chris, 30 years old. I asked my doctor to come off it but he advised that I finish the treatment. I didn’t think much more about the consequences of Accutane side effects but my attitude sure has changed.

“Ironically I was very social and had lots of friends before I took Accutane, when I had acne. I’m telling you this because acne has been blamed for mental issues that I believe should be blamed on the acne drug. Post-Accutane, I stopped going to school and stopped talking to my friends: I just shut myself away. I was diagnosed with depression five years ago and prescribed Prozac. Did taking Accutane result in me now taking Prozac? I can’t be certain, but the more I read about it, the more I blame Accutane.”

We all know that “one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.” In other words, one drug can have differing affects on people. Chris doesn’t have any problems with digestion. Cindy never had any psychological issues, unless you want to count guilt: she feels badly that her mother spent so much money on Accutane and her mother feels guilty insisting Cindy keep taking the med.

“I didn’t have insurance so Accutane was expensive,” says Cindy. “It cost my mother about $500 per month for me to have good skin. She told me to stay on Accutane even though I didn’t like how I felt, but at the time we weren’t aware of the side effects. If so, my mother would have chucked Accutane down the toilet.”


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