Herald Sun

13 January 2003

Son's state tragic - dad


DAVID Smellin has no doubt the acne drug Roaccutane has destroyed his son Paul's life.

``It's a very frightening thing, let me assure you,'' said the Ararat father.

``For Paul, it is just tragic.''Paul, now 20, has spent years in and out of psychiatric institutions, being treated for depression that Mr Smellin is convinced stems from his Roaccutane treatment.A short course of the drug three years ago led to major complications, including blurred vision, back and chest pain, and depression.

Most of the symptoms emerged months after he had finished the course.His downward spiral culminated in a psychotic episode that saw Paul committed to a mental hospital. He has required some form of psychiatric care ever since.

Mr Smellin, who wants the drug taken off the market, cited an exhaustive list of almost identical stories on Internet support groups around the world as proof that the drug was to blame.State Australian Medical Association president Mukesh Haikerwal acknowledged there could be complications with Roaccutane, including mental health issues, but maintained that the benefits outweighed the risks.

``We know it is an excellent drug . . . it makes people who have got a very debilitating, disfiguring disease a lot better,'' he said. But he said the AMA would consider addressing the growing level of community concern.He said the AMA would be prepared to lobby university departments to launch further studies.