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For the teenager (and many adults), there is perhaps nothing more terrifying than wide-spread, cystic acne. It damages your self-image, can make you the subject of ridicule, and oftentimes the acne itself is uncomfortable. For all these reasons and more, cures for acne are common place and big business. In fact, sufferers of acne have developed their own cottage community in their search for a cure and support. After over-the-counter topical gels, high priced commercial cleansing systems and home remedies failed, many of these sufferers sought the advice of a dermatologist in treating their acne. Until recently, a large number of these dermatologists prescribed the drug Accutane.

The American College of Osteopathic Dermatology describes Accutane this way:

Four to five months of Accutane treatment usually leads to clearing of acne. It is a potent medication that is very effective for nearly all types of breakouts. Accutane is needed for moderate to severe acne that has failed other treatments. It should be used for a severe, scarring acne. Is also used for acne present for many years that has not respond completely to antibiotic pills and creams. While it has many side effects, in some ways it is safer than long-term antibiotic usage. Most other acne-controlling medicines are antibacterial agents, which are effective only if used daily. Over two million people have taken this drug, so a lot is known about its safety and effectiveness.

However, while Accutane provided a “cure” for acne for many patients, it turned into an absolute nightmare for others. The drug has been linked to serious birth defects in children born to female patients, severe depression among all patients, particularly teen-agers, and most frighteningly, serious intestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome. In fact, recent lawsuits alleging that Accutane caused irreversible damage to patients’ bowels, lower intestine and Crohn’s disease have triggered drug manufacturer Roche to pull the drug off the market. Citing economic reasons, Roche will no longer market or provide the drug in the U.S. According to a Bloomberg news article “[t]he drug also has been pulled off the market in 11 other countries including France, Denmark, Austria, Germany, Portugal, Norway and Spain.”

Gastrointestinal disorders associated with Accutane can persist long after use of the drug has stopped. Gastrointestinal disorders that are linked to use of Accutane include Crohn’s disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), ulcerative colitis, and acute pancreatitis.

It is estimated that there are as many as 5,000 pending cases against Roche for serious injury connected with Accutane.

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