Accutane, also known as isotretinoin, is a prescription drug to treat cases of severe or cystic acne. The medication has been linked to serious side effects, including ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD has many complications, among them inflammation of the colon and/or small intestine, as well as ulcers in the rectum or colon. Symptoms include chronic diarrhea, blood or mucous in stools, and severe abdominal pain and/or cramping.
Accutane was developed as a treatment for cancer. The drug works by reducing the amount of oil produced by the sebaceous glands, and then shrinking them. It was later used as a final recourse in patients with severe acne. However, in practice, Accutane was often prescribed to patients suffering from only moderate acne and other skin conditions. Since Accutane side effects do not always manifest immediately after beginning course of treatment, the drug’s repercussions were not immediately apparent after its introduction in 1982.
However, even after evidence of Accutane side effects became clear, it took decades – and pressure from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – for Hoffmann-La Roche, the manufacturer of Accutane, to update the drug’s warning label to include IBD. In 2009, amidst thousands of lawsuits and complaints of Accutane side effects, the pharmaceutical company removed Accutane from the U.S. market.
Additional symptoms of ulcerative colitis
In addition to the above symptoms, Accutane ulcerative colitis may present the following symptoms:
- Weight loss
- Rectal bleeding
- Loss of Appetite
Diagnosis and treatment of Accutane ulcerative colitis
Ulcerative colitis has many symptoms similar to other gastrointestinal conditions, including Accutane Crohn’s disease. Ulcerative colitis has no cure, but once the disease has been diagnosed, typical treatment options involve anti-inflammatory drugs, immune suppressors, and steroids. In severe cases, patients may be required to undergo surgery to remove damaged colon tissue.
Accutane ulcerative colitis, and other side effects, can prove life changing for affected patients. To date, several courts across the United States have found in favor of Accutane side effects suffers, issuing millions in settlements against Hoffmann-La Roche. Many more lawsuits are pending, as Accutane users experience a range of side effects emerging after discontinuing use of the drug.