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Is Accutane as Dangerous as Initially Believed?
Posted: September 21, 2010
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Acne is a widespread skin complaint found in up to 80% of adolescents. It affects glands on the face and neck that produce grease resulting in spots, pimples and inflammation and can lead to scarring. Most cases are classed as mild, but in more severe cases it can be quite disfiguring—a sensitive problem in a social group that is already very body-conscience. Experts say around 10–20% of adolescents can develop severe acne.
"There has been a lot of controversy regarding these drugs and that has made many dermatologists cautious about prescribing isotretinoin," said Halvorsen. "Our study is important because it provides an argument for not being so cautious." Halvorsen studied results from a survey of 3,775 18- and 19-year-olds in Oslo. They found twice as many girls and three times as many boys with severe acne reported having suicidal thoughts than peers with little or no acne.
Generic drugmakers Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Mylan and Ranbaxy sell generic isotretinoin, which Halvorsen described as "very effective" against acne.
Cambridge University psychiatrist Ian Goodyer said it may be too early to draw firm conclusions. "From this research, I do not think we can say negative impacts on mental health were nothing to do with the drugs taken for severe acne. There may be additive effects in an already vulnerable group."