Accutane FAQ - FindLaw

Q: What is isotretinoin?

A: Isotretinoin is the generic name for Accutane. The medication is usually prescribed for cases of severe acne after other treatment options have been exhausted. 

Q: What is the most important information I should know about Accutane (isotretinoin)?

A: Accutane has been linked to certain serious side effects. However, most of these side effects generally disappear after Accutane use has ended. You should talk to your doctor if they last for more than a few weeks. In addition, your acne may actually get worse when you start using Accutane, so your doctor may have you use other medicines along with Accutane at the beginning of your treatment.

Q: What are some important considerations for women who are taking or considering Accutane (isotretinoin)?

A: Accutane can cause severe birth defects or death in babies, when women take it while they are pregnant, even for only a short time. You must not become pregnant while taking Accutane, or for one month after you stop taking it. Proof of two recent negative pregnancy tests is required prior to your first Accutane prescription. In addition, women using Accutane must agree to use two forms of birth control simultaneously for at least one month before starting Accutane treatment, while receiving treatment, and for one month after.

Q: What steps need to be followed in taking Accutane (isotretinoin)?

A: The amount of Accutane you take has been specially chosen for you, and may change during treatment. Never share your Accutane prescription with other people, and do not take Accutane that has been prescribed to someone else. Accutane should be taken with food, unless your health provider tells you otherwise. If you miss a dose, it should simply be skipped -- do not take two doses the next time. You don't have to keep the medicine in the refrigerator, but it should be kept out of sunlight.

Q: What should I avoid while taking Accutane (isotretinoin)?

A: Women should not get pregnant or breast feed while taking Accutane, and for one month after your treatment ends. Accutane patients should not give blood while taking Accutane, and for one month after use. Vitamin A supplements should not be taken while using Accutane, since in high doses vitamin A has many of the same side effects as Accutane. Cosmetic procedures such as waxing, dermabrasion, or laser procedures should be avoided while using Accutane, and for at least six months after treatment ceases. Excessive sunlight and ultraviolet light should also be avoided as much as possible.

Q: How long should I take Accutane (isotretinoin)?

A: Your doctor will most likely prescribe Accutane treatment for 15 to 20 weeks. If your condition does not improve over that time, you can usually resume treatment 8 to 10 weeks after your first course is over.

Q: What are symptoms of an Accutane (isotretinoin) overdose?

A: Accutane over-dosage has been associated with vomiting, facial flushing, abdominal pain, headache, and dizziness. All symptoms are usually resolved without apparent residual effects.

Q: Might I have a legal right to recover for unanticipated negative side effects from Accutane use?

A: Yes. While all medications have certain, anticipated side effects, a drug manufacturer has a duty to inform physicians adequately regarding the known risks associated with its drugs. If a manufacturer fails to do so, it can be held responsible to patients who are injured as the result of inadequate warnings, under a legal theory known as product liability.

Q: I've been using Accutane for a few months now, and I'm experiencing some medical problems that seem out of the ordinary. What should I do?

A: If you have taken Accutane and experienced any unusual side effects, you should contact your physician at once. In addition, you should contact a product liability attorney experienced in product liability litigation to discuss potential legal claims you might have, which could allow you to recover compensation for the harm Accutane has caused you.