The physical scars will be nothing compared to the emotional scars that will haunt the children. I recently read that the effective acne treatment Accutane was pulled off the market this summer quietly ending access to an excellent and effective acne treatment for millions of self conscious teens and young adults. Accutane, or isotretinoin as it’s known, was used to treat severe nodular acne.
It turns out that Accutane was linked to inflammatory bowel disease, and other side effects resulting in thousands of lawsuits. It spent twenty five years on the market embroiled in controversy.
Approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 1982, Accutane has been the subject of controversy for years. It first garnered attention in the late eighties for causing severe birth defects. It has also been known to cause psychiatric problems, and has been linked to hundreds of cases of suicide in the United States. Accutane has also been associated with problems of the liver, kidneys, central nervous system, and pancreas, as well as the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and auto-immune systems.
Now apparently it was the inflammatory bowel disease link that did it in with millions of dollars lost in just a handful of lawsuits, with thousands of lawsuits still pending. The company claims that this effective acne treatment was pulled not due to lawsuits, but rather due to increasing competition from pharmaceutical generics.
Roche notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today that it was withdrawing Accutane after a “reevaluation” of its product lines showed it faced serious challenges from generic competitors, company officials said in a statement.
I feel bad for the kids whose lives will be forever traumatized by the emotional scars left from their severe nodular acne. This effective acne treatment, whose benefits far outweighed the risks for millions of pimply teenagers for their severe nodular acne has been banished by a legal profession that chose to ignore the great benefits lost forever.
As with any medication, one has to outweigh the risks and benefits of therapy. Every medication I prescribe can cause serious or even life threatening side effects when used as prescribed. One day perhaps the millions of kids left with emotional scars because an effective acne treatment for their severe nodular acne was pulled from the market may someday sue the company for pulling a product that could have prevented their emotional scars. Perhaps that will be the future gravy train for lawyers, once they’ve forced all drugs off the market.
*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*