Accutane and Inflammatory Bowel Disease


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Accutane acne medication has been linked to serious side effects including colitis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The link between Accutane and inflammatory bowel disease has been shown in at least one preliminary study. Patients who developed Accutane side effects are now filing lawsuits, alleging they were not properly warned about the risks associated with this drug.

Accutane Side Effects

AccutaneAccutane is a form of vitamin A—isotretinoin—that was taken for three to six months to treat severe nodular acne. It worked by reducing the amount of oil released by the oil glands in the patient's skin. Accutane, manufactured by Roche Holding, was also used to treat psoriasis. 

Accutane has been linked to a serious bowel disorder known as inflammatory bowel disease. A study, presented to the American College of Gastroenterology in late 2009, found that patients who took isotretinoin (the generic form of Accutane) had a higher risk of inflammatory bowel disease than patients who did not take the drug. 

According to the study, the chance of developing inflammatory bowel disease was 1.68 times higher in patients who used isotretinoin than in those who did not. People who had four or more prescriptions filled had 2.67 times the risk of inflammatory bowel disease. The risk of developing ulcerative colitis was 4.36 times higher in isotretinoin users. However, researchers noted that the study, because it has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal, should be considered preliminary.

AccutaneAccutane is sold generically as isotretinoin and also under the names Amnesteem, Claravis and Sotret. Before its patent expired, Accutane reportedly had sales of $200 million a year. 

Accutane was pulled from the market in June, 2009 by its manufacturer. At the time, Roche said the drug was being withdrawn due to market pressure. 

Accutane has also been linked to other serious side effects. 

Accutane and Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease refers to a group of inflammatory conditions that occur in the colon and small intestine. The two main types of inflammatory bowel disease are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. 

AccutanePatients with ulcerative colitis develop lesions in the epithelial lining of the colon and rectum, whereas Crohn's disease can affect any portion of the patient's gastrointestinal tract and affects the whole bowel wall.

Patients with inflammatory bowel disease experience chronically red and swollen intestines, pain and cramping, weight loss and bleeding. Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease usually appear within four years of the last time the patient took Accutane. However, it is possible that patients have experienced symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease but did not realize they need to go to a doctor. Patients who took Accutane and have developed symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease should seek medical attention. 

Some patients who developed inflammatory bowel disease required surgery to remove a section of their colon or even their entire colon. Complicating matters is that patients who took Accutane may have been teenagers when they took the drug--typically after first having gone through a failed trial of Tetracycline treatment--and now face a lifetime of complications because of surgery on their colon. 

Inflammatory bowel disease is frequently confused with irritable bowel syndrome. Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional gastrointestinal disorder (meaning the bowel does not function correctly) in which the patient experiences increased contractions in the colon or rectum. Rather than being a disease, irritable bowel syndrome is a collection of symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation. Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome includes changes to the patient's diet, medicine and stress relief. 

Accutane Lawsuit

In February, 2009, Roche Holding AG was ordered to pay $25.16 million in damages to a former Accutane user who said his use of the drug resulted in inflammatory bowel disease. A jury reached the verdict at a retrial after a previous $2.62 million award to the plaintiff was overturned. According to Bloomberg (02/16/10), the plaintiff, Andrew McCarrell, said he became ill after taking Accutane in 1995. McCarrell reportedly required five surgeries, including one surgery in which his colon was removed. 

Bloomberg notes that McCarrell's verdict was the largest of six Accutane-related lawsuits, in which plaintiffs won a total of $56 million. Plaintiffs in all cases alleged Roche did not adequately warn Accutane users about the risks associated with the drug. Although Roche lost every lawsuit, a Florida appeals court has overturned one of the judgments for $7.2 million. There are still approximately 1,000 other lawsuits regarding Accutane pending. 

Accutane IBD Side Effects Legal Help

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