Accutane is a long-lasting medication prescribed to treat acne that has not responded well to other treatments. This prescription medication works by decreasing the production of an oily substance under the skin. Accutane comes in capsule form and is typically taken twice a day with food. Possible side effects include hearing problems, depression, and dry skin.
What Is Accutane?
Accutane® (isotretinoin) is a prescription medication approved to treat severe nodular acne that has not responded to other treatments. It can be quite effective, with long-lasting effects after a single 15- or 20-week course. However, this acne medication is extremely dangerous for pregnant women, and there are strict rules and regulations for prescribing and dispensing it.
Accutane was manufactured by Roche Laboratories, Inc. However, the manufacturer decided to stop making this medication. Generic versions (sold under the names Amnesteem™, Claravis™, and Sotret®) are still available.
How Does It Work?
Accutane is a retinoid, which means that it is similar to vitamin A. It works by affecting the sebaceous glands. These glands produce sebum (an oily substance), and Accutane works by reducing the size of the sebaceous glands and decreasing sebum production. The medication also corrects abnormal keratinization (which causes a buildup of cells within hair follicles), a problem that contributes to acne. It is not entirely clear as to why Accutane causes such long-lasting, anti-acne effects.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: Approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed July 2, 2007.
Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 7th ed. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2005.
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