isotretinoin (Claravis, Amnesteem, Absorica, Myorisan, Zenatane, Sotret, Accutane)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

GENERIC NAME: isotretinoin

BRAND NAME: Claravis, Amnesteem, Absorica, Myorisan, Zenatane, Sotret

DISCONTINUED BRAND: Accutane

PRESCRIPTION: Yes

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

USES:

  • Isotretinoin is used to treat severe acne that is resistant to more conservative treatments such as creams, drying agents, and topical or oral antibiotics. Complete remission or prolonged improvement is seen in many patients after one course of 15 to 20 weeks of isotretinoin. Because of its serious side effects, isotretinoin should be used only for severe resistant acne.
  • Because isotretinoin causes birth defects, isotretinoin is sold only under a special program approved by the Food and Drug Administration called iPLEDGE. Isotretinoin can only be prescribed by healthcare providers and dispensed by pharmacies registered in iPLEDGE.

SIDE EFFECTS:

The most common side effects of isotretinoin are:

  • Dry skin,
  • Itching,
  • Dry nose,
  • Nosebleeds (epistaxis),
  • Cracks in the corners of the mouth (chilitis),
  • Dry mouth,
  • Inflammation of the whites of the eyes.

Joint aches also are common. Patients may develop an increase in blood cholesterol and triglycerides. Psychiatric problems such as depression, hallucinations and suicidal behavior have been reported.

Other side effects include:

Serious side effects include:

Rarely, isotretinoin can cause brain swelling (pseudotumor cerebri or intracranial hypertension), which produces nausea, vomiting, headache, and changes in vision.

Erythema multiforme and severe skin reactions (for example, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis) have been associated with isotretinoin use. These events may be serious and result in life-threatening events or death, hospitalization, or disability. Patients should be monitored closely for severe skin reactions, and isotretinoin discontinued if necessary.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/8/2016

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