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Double Whammy: Accutane Bowel Problems and Depression

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Lake Placid, NYTony’s son was prescribed Accutane for six months just before it was pulled off the market in 2009. He now suffers from ulcerative colitis and depression. Tony has anger issues that might be helped to some degree by filing an Accutane lawsuit.

“When I found out that doctors and the FDA knew about Accutane and its link to depression and Accutane suicide, I was furious,” says Tony. “I read a LawyersandSettlements article from April 2006 calling for the FDA to ban Accutane. It said that as far back as 1985 Accutane first mentioned reports of depression in patients being treated with Accutane. If we had this information about Accutane, my son would never have taken it and he would never have attempted suicide.”

Tony says his 27-year-old son has no health insurance and doesn’t know where to turn. He is taking medications for both depression and Accutane ulcerative colitis but says it’s like “putting a band-aid on a bullet wound” because his symptoms seem to be getting worse and they can’t afford to see a psychiatrist for his mental health issues or a gastroenterologist for his bowel problems. “I don’t even know if he is taking the right kind of meds or how long they will be effective for,” says Tony. “He has to pay out of pocket so I’m hopeful that a lawsuit will at least cover his medical bills.”

As reported in the 2006 article, Roche, the maker of Accutane, denied back in 1985 that Accutane causes depression and suicide. Adding to Tony’s anger, internal FDA documents show the agency was aware of these risks almost since the drug came on the market. Fast forward to 1998 when an FDA memo states that: “Given all the pieces of evidence available, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Accutane can adversely affect the adult human brain in clinically significant ways and that Accutane use is associated with severe psychiatric disease in some patients.” The agency recommended “active consideration of removal of Accutane from the market.”

The recommendation was ignored for more than a decade, even though the FDA in 2002 had confirmed 173 cases of suicide among persons taking Accutane since its introduction in 1982. (According to the FDA, only about one percent of the suicide adverse events are reported, which means the actual figure could be as high as 20,000.)

Ron believes his Accutane bowel problems saved him from severe depression. “Although I have serious digestive issues it was nothing compared to the agony of depression,” says Ron. “Luckily, I received treatment for my mental health problems that started about a year after I quit Accutane. Still, I’m pretty miserable with permanent gas issues and stool problems, and I’m really angry that we were not told any of this could happen.

“I took Accutane when I was in my early teens to treat acne. It did a good job of clearing up my skin, but it took away so much. Last year I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and I can’t think of any other reason for getting this other than Accutane. Nobody in my family suffers from bowel problems and nobody suffers from depression. And nobody else took Accutane. Go figure.


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