Accutane

Warnings
Precautions

WARNINGS

Psychiatric Disorders

Accutane (isotretinoin) may cause depression, psychosis and, rarely, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, suicide, and aggressive and/or violent behaviors. No mechanism of action has been established for these events (see ADVERSE REACTIONS: Psychiatric). Prescribers should read the brochure, Recognizing Psychiatric Disorders in Adolescents and Young Adults: A Guide for Prescribers of Isotretinoin. Prescribers should be alert to the warning signs of psychiatric disorders to guide patients to receive the help they need. Therefore, prior to initiation of Accutane (isotretinoin) therapy, patients and family members should be asked about any history of psychiatric disorder, and at each visit during therapy patients should be assessed for symptoms of depression, mood disturbance, psychosis, or aggression to determine if further evaluation may be necessary. Signs and symptoms of depression, as described in the brochure (“Recognizing Psychiatric Disorders in Adolescents and Young Adults”), include sad mood, hopelessness, feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness, loss of pleasure or interest in activities, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, change in sleep pattern, change in weight or appetite, suicidal thoughts or attempts, restlessness, irritability, acting on dangerous impulses, and persistent physical symptoms unresponsive to treatment. Patients should stop Accutane (isotretinoin) and the patient or a family member should promptly contact their prescriber if the patient develops depression, mood disturbance, psychosis, or aggression, without waiting until the next visit. Discontinuation of Accutane (isotretinoin) therapy may be insufficient; further evaluation may be necessary. While such monitoring may be helpful, it may not detect all patients at risk. Patients may report mental health problems or family history of psychiatric disorders. These reports should be discussed with the patient and/or the patient's family. A referral to a mental health professional may be necessary. The physician should consider whether Accutane (isotretinoin) therapy is appropriate in this setting; for some patients the risks may outweigh the benefits of Accutane (isotretinoin) therapy.

Pseudotumor Cerebri

Accutane (isotretinoin) use has been associated with a number of cases of pseudotumor cerebri (benign intracranial hypertension), some of which involved concomitant use of tetracyclines. Concomitant treatment with tetracyclines should therefore be avoided. Early signs and symptoms of pseudotumor cerebri include papilledema, headache, nausea and vomiting, and visual disturbances. Patients with these symptoms should be screened for papilledema and, if present, they should be told to discontinue Accutane (isotretinoin) immediately and be referred to a neurologist for further diagnosis and care (see ADVERSE REACTIONS: Neurological).

Serious Skin Reactions

There have been post-marketing reports of erythema multiforme and severe skin reactions [eg, Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS), toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN)] associated with isotretinoin use. These events may be serious and result in death, life-threatening events, hospitalization, or disability. Patients should be monitored closely for severe skin reactions, and discontinuation of Accutane (isotretinoin) should be considered if warranted.

Pancreatitis

Acute pancreatitis has been reported in patients with either elevated or normal serum triglyceride levels. In rare instances, fatal hemorrhagic pancreatitis has been reported. Accutane (isotretinoin) should be stopped if hypertriglyceridemia cannot be controlled at an acceptable level or if symptoms of pancreatitis occur.

Lipids

Elevations of serum triglycerides in excess of 800 mg/dL have been reported in patients treated with Accutane (isotretinoin) . Marked elevations of serum triglycerides were reported in approximately 25% of patients receiving Accutane (isotretinoin) in clinical trials. In addition, approximately 15% developed a decrease in high-density lipoproteins and about 7% showed an increase in cholesterol levels. In clinical trials, the effects on triglycerides, HDL, and cholesterol were reversible upon cessation of Accutane (isotretinoin) therapy. Some patients have been able to reverse triglyceride elevation by reduction in weight, restriction of dietary fat and alcohol, and reduction in dose while continuing Accutane (isotretinoin) .5

Blood lipid determinations should be performed before Accutane (isotretinoin) is given and then at intervals until the lipid response to Accutane (isotretinoin) is established, which usually occurs within 4 weeks. Especially careful consideration must be given to risk/benefit for patients who may be at high risk during Accutane (isotretinoin) therapy (patients with diabetes, obesity, increased alcohol intake, lipid metabolism disorder or familial history of lipid metabolism disorder). If Accutane (isotretinoin) therapy is instituted, more frequent checks of serum values for lipids and/or blood sugar are recommended (see PRECAUTIONS: Laboratory Tests).

The cardiovascular consequences of hypertriglyceridemia associated with Accutane (isotretinoin) are unknown. Animal Studies: In rats given 8 or 32 mg/kg/day of isotretinoin (1.3 to 5.3 times the recommended clinical dose of 1.0 mg/kg/day after normalization for total body surface area) for 18 months or longer, the incidences of focal calcification, fibrosis and inflammation of the myocardium, calcification of coronary, pulmonary and mesenteric arteries, and metastatic calcification of the gastric mucosa were greater than in control rats of similar age. Focal endocardial and myocardial calcifications associated with calcification of the coronary arteries were observed in two dogs after approximately 6 to 7 months of treatment with isotretinoin at a dosage of 60 to 120 mg/kg/day (30 to 60 times the recommended clinical dose of 1.0 mg/kg/day, respectively, after normalization for total body surface area).

Hearing Impairment

Impaired hearing has been reported in patients taking Accutane (isotretinoin) ; in some cases, the hearing impairment has been reported to persist after therapy has been discontinued. Mechanism(s) and causality for this event have not been established. Patients who experience tinnitus or hearing impairment should discontinue Accutane (isotretinoin) treatment and be referred for specialized care for further evaluation (see ADVERSE REACTIONS: Special Senses).

Hepatotoxicity

Clinical hepatitis considered to be possibly or probably related to Accutane (isotretinoin) therapy has been reported. Additionally, mild to moderate elevations of liver enzymes have been observed in approximately 15% of individuals treated during clinical trials, some of which normalized with dosage reduction or continued administration of the drug. If normalization does not readily occur or if hepatitis is suspected during treatment with Accutane (isotretinoin) , the drug should be discontinued and the etiology further investigated.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Accutane (isotretinoin) has been associated with inflammatory bowel disease (including regional ileitis) in patients without a prior history of intestinal disorders. In some instances, symptoms have been reported to persist after Accutane (isotretinoin) treatment has been stopped. Patients experiencing abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or severe diarrhea should discontinue Accutane immediately (see ADVERSE REACTIONS: Gastrointestinal).

Skeletal

Bone Mineral Density

Effects of multiple courses of Accutane (isotretinoin) on the developing musculoskeletal system are unknown. There is some evidence that long-term, high-dose, or multiple courses of therapy with isotretinoin have more of an effect than a single course of therapy on the musculoskeletal system. In an open-label clinical trial (N=217) of a single course of therapy with Accutane (isotretinoin) for severe recalcitrant nodular acne, bone density measurements at several skeletal sites were not significantly decreased (lumbar spine change > -4% and total hip change > -5%) or were increased in the majority of patients. One patient had a decrease in lumbar spine bone mineral density > 4% based on unadjusted data. Sixteen (7.9%) patients had decreases in lumbar spine bone mineral density > 4%, and all the other patients (92%) did not have significant decreases or had increases (adjusted for body mass index). Nine patients (4.5%) had a decrease in total hip bone mineral density > 5% based on unadjusted data. Twenty-one (10.6%) patients had decreases in total hip bone mineral density > 5%, and all the other patients (89%) did not have significant decreases or had increases (adjusted for body mass index). Follow-up studies performed in 8 of the patients with decreased bone mineral density for up to 11 months thereafter demonstrated increasing bone density in 5 patients at the lumbar spine, while the other 3 patients had lumbar spine bone density measurements below baseline values. Total hip bone mineral densities remained below baseline (range –1.6% to –7.6%) in 5 of 8 patients (62.5%).

In a separate open-label extension study of 10 patients, ages 13-18 years, who started a second course of Accutane (isotretinoin) 4 months after the first course, two patients showed a decrease in mean lumbar spine bone mineral density up to 3.25% (see PRECAUTIONS: Pediatric Use).

Spontaneous reports of osteoporosis, osteopenia, bone fractures, and delayed healing of bone fractures have been seen in the Accutane (isotretinoin) population. While causality to Accutane (isotretinoin) has not been established, an effect cannot be ruled out. Longer term effects have not been studied. It is important that Accutane (isotretinoin) be given at the recommended doses for no longer than the recommended duration.

Hyperostosis

A high prevalence of skeletal hyperostosis was noted in clinical trials for disorders of keratinization with a mean dose of 2.24 mg/kg/day. Additionally, skeletal hyperostosis was noted in 6 of 8 patients in a prospective study of disorders of keratinization.6 Minimal skeletal hyperostosis and calcification of ligaments and tendons have also been observed by x-ray in prospective studies of nodular acne patients treated with a single course of therapy at recommended doses. The skeletal effects of multiple Accutane (isotretinoin) treatment courses for acne are unknown.

In a clinical study of 217 pediatric patients (12 to 17 years) with severe recalcitrant nodular acne, hyperostosis was not observed after 16 to 20 weeks of treatment with approximately 1 mg/kg/day of Accutane (isotretinoin) given in two divided doses. Hyperostosis may require a longer time frame to appear. The clinical course and significance remain unknown.

Premature Epiphyseal Closure

There are spontaneous reports of premature epiphyseal closure in acne patients receiving recommended doses of Accutane (isotretinoin) . The effect of multiple courses of Accutane (isotretinoin) on epiphyseal closure is unknown.

Vision Impairment

Visual problems should be carefully monitored. All Accutane (isotretinoin) patients experiencing visual difficulties should discontinue Accutane (isotretinoin) treatment and have an ophthalmological examination (see ADVERSE REACTIONS: Special Senses).

Corneal Opacities

Corneal opacities have occurred in patients receiving Accutane (isotretinoin) for acne and more frequently when higher drug dosages were used in patients with disorders of keratinization. The corneal opacities that have been observed in clinical trial patients treated with Accutane (isotretinoin) have either completely resolved or were resolving at follow-up 6 to 7 weeks after discontinuation of the drug (see ADVERSE REACTIONS: Special Senses).

Decreased Night Vision

Decreased night vision has been reported during Accutane (isotretinoin) therapy and in some instances the event has persisted after therapy was discontinued. Because the onset in some patients was sudden, patients should be advised of this potential problem and warned to be cautious when driving or operating any vehicle at night.

PRECAUTIONS

Accutane (isotretinoin) must only be prescribed by prescribers who are registered and activated with the iPLEDGE program. Accutane (isotretinoin) must only be dispensed by a pharmacy registered and activated with iPLEDGE, and must only be dispensed to patients who are registered and meet all the requirements of iPLEDGE. Registered and activated pharmacies must receive Accutane (isotretinoin) only from wholesalers registered with iPLEDGE.

iPLEDGE program requirements for wholesalers, prescribers, and pharmacists are described below:

Wholesalers

For the purpose of the iPLEDGE program, the term wholesaler refers to wholesaler, distributor, and/or chain pharmacy distributor. To distribute Accutane (isotretinoin) , wholesalers must be registered with iPLEDGE, and agree to meet all iPLEDGE requirements for wholesale distribution of isotretinoin products. Wholesalers must register with iPLEDGE by signing and returning the iPLEDGE wholesaler agreement that affirms they will comply with all iPLEDGE requirements for distribution of isotretinoin. These include:

  • Registering prior to distributing isotretinoin and re-registering annually thereafter
  • Distributing only FDA approved isotretinoin product
  • Only shipping isotretinoin to
    • wholesalers registered in the iPLEDGE program with prior written consent from the manufacturer or
    • pharmacies licensed in the US and registered and activated in the iPLEDGE program
  • Notifying the isotretinoin manufacturer (or delegate) of any non-registered and/or nonactivated pharmacy or unregistered wholesaler that attempts to order isotretinoin
  • Complying with inspection of wholesaler records for verification of compliance with the iPLEDGE program by the isotretinoin manufacturer (or delegate)
  • Returning to the manufacturer (or delegate) any undistributed product if registration is revoked by the manufacturer or if the wholesaler chooses to not re-register annually

Prescribers

To prescribe isotretinoin, the prescriber must be registered and activated with the pregnancy risk management program iPLEDGE. Prescribers can register by signing and returning the completed registration form. Prescribers can only activate their registration by affirming that they meet requirements and will comply with all iPLEDGE requirements by attesting to the following points:

  • I know the risk and severity of fetal injury/birth defects from isotretinoin.
  • I know the risk factors for unplanned pregnancy and the effective measures for avoidance of unplanned pregnancy.
  • I have the expertise to provide the patient with detailed pregnancy prevention counseling or I will refer her to an expert for such counseling, reimbursed by the manufacturer.
  • I will comply with the iPLEDGE program requirements described in the booklets entitled The Guide to Best Practices for the iPLEDGE Program and The iPLEDGE Program Prescriber Contraception Counseling Guide.
  • Before beginning treatment of female patients of childbearing potential with isotretinoin and on a monthly basis, the patient will be counseled to avoid pregnancy by using two forms of contraception simultaneously and continuously one month before, during, and one month after isotretinoin therapy, unless the patient commits to continuous abstinence.
  • I will not prescribe isotretinoin to any female patient of childbearing potential until verifying she has a negative screening pregnancy test and monthly negative CLIA-certified (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment) pregnancy tests. Patients should have a pregnancy test at the completion of the entire course of isotretinoin and another pregnancy test 1 month later.
  • I will report any pregnancy case that I become aware of while the female patient is on isotretinoin or 1 month after the last dose to the pregnancy registry.

To prescribe isotretinoin, the prescriber must access the iPLEDGE system via the internet (www.ipledgeprogram.com) or telephone (1-866-495-0654) to:

  1. Register each patient in the iPLEDGE program.
  2. Confirm monthly that each patient has received counseling and education.
  3. For female patients of childbearing potential:
    • Enter patient's two chosen forms of contraception each month.
    • Enter monthly result from CLIA-certified laboratory conducted pregnancy test.

Isotretinoin must only be prescribed to female patients who are known not to be pregnant as confirmed by a negative CLIA-certified laboratory conducted pregnancy test.

Isotretinoin must only be dispensed by a pharmacy registered and activated with the pregnancy risk management program iPLEDGE and only when the registered patient meets all the requirements of the iPLEDGE program. Meeting the requirements for a female patient of childbearing potential signifies that she:

  • Has been counseled and has signed a Patient Information/Informed Consent About Birth Defects (for female patients who can get pregnant) form that contains warnings about the risk of potential birth defects if the fetus is exposed to isotretinoin. The patient must sign the informed consent form before starting treatment and patient counseling must also be done at that time and on a monthly basis thereafter.
  • Has had two negative urine or serum pregnancy tests with a sensitivity of at least 25 mIU/mL before receiving the initial isotretinoin prescription. The first test (a screening test) is obtained by the prescriber when the decision is made to pursue qualification of the patient for isotretinoin. The second pregnancy test (a confirmation test) must be done in a CLIA-certified laboratory. The interval between the 2 tests should be at least 19 days.
    • For patients with regular menstrual cycles, the second pregnancy test should be done during the first 5 days of the menstrual period immediately preceding the beginning of isotretinoin therapy and after the patient has used 2 forms of contraception for 1 month.
    • For patients with amenorrhea, irregular cycles, or using a contraceptive method that precludes withdrawal bleeding, the second pregnancy test must be done immediately preceding the beginning of isotretinoin therapy and after the patient has used 2 forms of contraception for 1 month.
  • Has had a negative result from a urine or serum pregnancy test in a CLIA-certified laboratory before receiving each subsequent course of isotretinoin. A pregnancy test must be repeated every month, in a CLIA-certified laboratory, prior to the female patient receiving each prescription.
  • Has selected and has committed to use 2 forms of effective contraception simultaneously, at least 1 of which must be a primary form, unless the patient commits to continuous abstinence from heterosexual contact, or the patient has undergone a hysterectomy or bilateral oophorectomy, or has been medically confirmed to be post-menopausal. Patients must use 2 forms of effective contraception for at least 1 month prior to initiation of isotretinoin therapy, during isotretinoin therapy, and for 1 month after discontinuing isotretinoin therapy. Counseling about contraception and behaviors associated with an increased risk of pregnancy must be repeated on a monthly basis.
    If the patient has unprotected heterosexual intercourse at any time 1 month before, during, or 1 month after therapy, she must:
    1. Stop taking Accutane (isotretinoin) immediately, if on therapy
    2. Have a pregnancy test at least 19 days after the last act of unprotected heterosexual intercourse
    3. Start using 2 forms of effective contraception simultaneously again for 1 month before resuming Accutane (isotretinoin) therapy
    4. Have a second pregnancy test after using 2 forms of effective contraception for 1 month as described above depending on whether she has regular menses or not.

Effective forms of contraception include both primary and secondary forms of contraception:

Primary forms Secondary forms
  • tubal sterilization
  • partner's vasectomy
  • intrauterine device
  • hormonal (combination oral contraceptives, transdermal patch, injectables, implantables, or vaginal ring)
Barrier:
  • male latex condom with or without spermicide
  • diaphragm with spermicide
  • cervical cap with spermicide
Other:
  • vaginal sponge (contains spermicide)

Any birth control method can fail. There have been reports of pregnancy from female patients who have used oral contraceptives, as well as transdermal patch/injectable/implantable/vaginal ring hormonal birth control products; these pregnancies occurred while these patients were taking Accutane (isotretinoin) . These reports are more frequent for female patients who use only a single method of contraception. Therefore, it is critically important that female patients of childbearing potential use 2 effective forms of contraception simultaneously. Patients must receive written warnings about the rates of possible contraception failure (included in patient education kits).

Using two forms of contraception simultaneously substantially reduces the chances that a female will become pregnant over the risk of pregnancy with either form alone. A drug interaction that decreases effectiveness of hormonal contraceptives has not been entirely ruled out for Accutane (see PRECAUTIONS: DRUG INTERACTIONS). Although hormonal contraceptives are highly effective, prescribers are advised to consult the package insert of any medication administered concomitantly with hormonal contraceptives, since some medications may decrease the effectiveness of these birth control products.

Patients should be prospectively cautioned not to self-medicate with the herbal supplement St. John's Wort because a possible interaction has been suggested with hormonal contraceptives based on reports of breakthrough bleeding on oral contraceptives shortly after starting St. John's Wort. Pregnancies have been reported by users of combined hormonal contraceptives who also used some form of St. John's Wort.

If a pregnancy does occur during isotretinoin treatment, isotretinoin must be discontinued immediately. The patient should be referred to an Obstetrician-Gynecologist experienced in reproductive toxicity for further evaluation and counseling. Any suspected fetal exposure during or 1 month after isotretinoin therapy must be reported immediately to the FDA via the MedWatch number 1-800-FDA-1088 and also to the iPLEDGE pregnancy registry at 1-866-495-0654 or via the internet (www.ipledgeprogram.com).

All Patients

Isotretinoin is contraindicated in female patients who are pregnant. To receive isotretinoin all patients must meet all of the following conditions:

  • Must be registered with the iPLEDGE program by the prescriber
  • Must understand that severe birth defects can occur with the use of isotretinoin by female patients
  • Must be reliable in understanding and carrying out instructions
  • Must sign a Patient Information/Informed Consent (for all patients) form that contains warnings about the potential risks associated with isotretinoin
  • Must fill and pick up the prescription within 7 days of the date of specimen collection for the pregnancy test for female patients of childbearing potential
  • Must fill and pick up the prescription within 30 days of the office visit for male patients and female patients not of childbearing potential
  • Must not donate blood while on isotretinoin and for 1 month after treatment has ended
  • Must not share isotretinoin with anyone, even someone who has similar symptoms
Female Patients of Childbearing Potential

Isotretinoin is contraindicated in female patients who are pregnant. In addition to the requirements for all patients described above, female patients of childbearing potential must meet the following conditions:

  • Must NOT be pregnant or breast-feeding
  • Must comply with the required pregnancy testing at a CLIA-certified laboratory
  • Must fill and pick up the prescription within 7 days of the date of specimen collection for the pregnancy test
  • Must be capable of complying with the mandatory contraceptive measures required for isotretinoin therapy, or commit to continuous abstinence from heterosexual intercourse, and understand behaviors associated with an increased risk of pregnancy
  • Must understand that it is her responsibility to avoid pregnancy one month before, during and one month after isotretinoin therapy
  • Must have signed an additional Patient Information/Informed Consent About Birth Defects (for female patients who can get pregnant) form, before starting isotretinoin, that contains warnings about the risk of potential birth defects if the fetus is exposed to isotretinoin
  • Must access the iPLEDGE system via the internet (www.ipledgeprogram.com) or telephone (1-866-495-0654), before starting isotretinoin, on a monthly basis during therapy, and 1 month after the last dose to answer questions on the program requirements and to enter the patient's two chosen forms of contraception
  • Must have been informed of the purpose and importance of providing information to the iPLEDGE program should she become pregnant while taking isotretinoin or within 1 month of the last dose

Pharmacists

To dispense isotretinoin, pharmacies must be registered and activated with the pregnancy risk management program iPLEDGE.

The Responsible Site Pharmacist must register the pharmacy by signing and returning the completed registration form. After registration, the Responsible Site Pharmacist can only activate the pharmacy registration by affirming that they meet requirements and will comply with all iPLEDGE requirements by attesting to the following points:

  • I know the risk and severity of fetal injury/birth defects from isotretinoin.
  • I will train all pharmacists, who participate in the filling and dispensing of isotretinoin prescriptions, on the iPLEDGE program requirements.
  • I will comply and seek to ensure all pharmacists who participate in the filling and dispensing of isotretinoin prescriptions comply with the iPLEDGE program requirements described in the booklet entitled Pharmacist Guide for the iPLEDGE Program.
  • I will obtain Accutane (isotretinoin) product only from iPLEDGE registered wholesalers.
  • I will not sell, buy, borrow, loan or otherwise transfer isotretinoin in any manner to or from another pharmacy.
  • I will return to the manufacturer (or delegate) any unused product if registration is revoked by the manufacturer or if the pharmacy chooses to not reactivate annually.
  • I will not fill isotretinoin for any party other than a qualified patient.

To dispense isotretinoin, the pharmacist must:

  1. be trained by the Responsible Site Pharmacist concerning the iPLEDGE program requirements.
  2. obtain authorization from the iPLEDGE program via the internet (www.ipledgeprogram.com) or telephone (1-866-495-0654) for every isotretinoin prescription. Authorization signifies that the patient has met all program requirements and is qualified to receive isotretinoin.
  3. write the Risk Management Authorization (RMA) number on the prescription.

Accutane (isotretinoin) must only be dispensed:

  • in no more than a 30-day supply
  • with an Accutane Medication Guide
  • after authorization from the iPLEDGE program
  • prior to the “do not dispense to patient after” date provided by the iPLEDGE system (within 30 days of the office visit for male patients and female patients not of childbearing potential and within 7 days of the date of specimen collection for female patients of childbearing potential)
  • with a new prescription for refills and another authorization from the iPLEDGE program (No automatic refills are allowed)

An Accutane Medication Guide must be given to the patient each time Accutane (isotretinoin) is dispensed, as required by law. This Accutane Medication Guide is an important part of the risk management program for the patients.

Accutane (isotretinoin) must not be prescribed, dispensed or otherwise obtained through the internet or any other means outside of the iPLEDGE program. Only FDA-approved Accutane (isotretinoin) products must be distributed, prescribed, dispensed, and used. Patients must fill Accutane (isotretinoin) prescriptions only at US licensed pharmacies.

A description of the iPLEDGE program educational materials available with iPLEDGE is provided below. The main goal of these educational materials is to explain the iPLEDGE program requirements and to reinforce the educational messages.

  1. The Guide to Best Practices for the iPLEDGE Program includes: isotretinoin teratogenic potential, information on pregnancy testing, and the method to complete a qualified isotretinoin prescription.
  2. The iPLEDGE Program Prescriber Contraception Counseling Guide includes: specific information about effective contraception, the limitations of contraceptive methods, behaviors associated with an increased risk of contraceptive failure and pregnancy and the methods to evaluate pregnancy risk.
  3. The Pharmacist Guide for the iPLEDGE Program includes: isotretinoin teratogenic potential and the method to obtain authorization to dispense an isotretinoin prescription.
  4. The iPLEDGE program is a systematic approach to comprehensive patient education about their responsibilities and includes education for contraception compliance and reinforcement of educational messages. The iPLEDGE program includes information on the risks and benefits of isotretinoin which is linked to the Medication Guide dispensed by pharmacists with each isotretinoin prescription.
  5. Female patients not of childbearing potential and male patients, and female patients of childbearing potential are provided with separate booklets. Each booklet contains information on isotretinoin therapy including precautions and warnings, a Patient Information/Informed Consent (for all patients) form, and a toll-free line which provides isotretinoin information in 2 languages.
  6. The booklet for female patients not of childbearing potential and male patients, The iPLEDGE Program Guide to Isotretinoin for Male Patients and Female Patients Who Cannot Get Pregnant, also includes information about male reproduction and a warning not to share isotretinoin with others or to donate blood during isotretinoin therapy and for 1 month following discontinuation of isotretinoin.
  7. The booklet for female patients of childbearing potential, The iPLEDGE Program Guide to Isotretinoin for Female Patients Who Can Get Pregnant, includes a referral program that offers female patients free contraception counseling, reimbursed by the manufacturer, by a reproductive specialist; and a second Patient Information/Informed Consent About Birth Defects (for female patients who can get pregnant) form concerning birth defects.
  8. The booklet, The iPLEDGE Program Birth Control Workbook includes information on the types of contraceptive methods, the selection and use of appropriate, effective contraception, the rates of possible contraceptive failure and a toll-free contraception counseling line.
  9. In addition, there is a patient educational DVD with the following videos — “Be Prepared, Be Protected” and “Be Aware: The Risk of Pregnancy While on Isotretinoin” (see PATIENT INFORMATION ).

General

Although an effect of Accutane (isotretinoin) on bone loss is not established, physicians should use caution when prescribing Accutane (isotretinoin) to patients with a genetic predisposition for age-related osteoporosis, a history of childhood osteoporosis conditions, osteomalacia, or other disorders of bone metabolism. This would include patients diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and those who are on chronic drug therapy that causes drug-induced osteoporosis/osteomalacia and/or affects vitamin D metabolism, such as systemic corticosteroids and any anticonvulsant.

Patients may be at increased risk when participating in sports with repetitive impact where the risks of spondylolisthesis with and without pars fractures and hip growth plate injuries in early and late adolescence are known. There are spontaneous reports of fractures and/or delayed healing in patients while on therapy with Accutane (isotretinoin) or following cessation of therapy with Accutane (isotretinoin) while involved in these activities. While causality to Accutane (isotretinoin) has not been established, an effect must not be ruled out.

Information for Patients

See PRECAUTIONS and Boxed CONTRAINDICATIONS AND WARNINGS.

  • Patients must be instructed to read the Medication Guide supplied as required by law when Accutane (isotretinoin) is dispensed. The complete text of the Medication Guide is reprinted at the end of this document. For additional information, patients must also be instructed to read the iPLEDGE program patient educational materials. All patients must sign the Patient Information/Informed Consent (for all patients) form.
  • Female patients of childbearing potential must be instructed that they must not be pregnant when Accutane (isotretinoin) therapy is initiated, and that they should use 2 forms of effective contraception simultaneously for 1 month before starting Accutane (isotretinoin) , while taking Accutane (isotretinoin) , and for 1 month after Accutane (isotretinoin) has been stopped, unless they commit to continuous abstinence from heterosexual intercourse. They should also sign a second Patient Information/Informed Consent About Birth Defects (for female patients who can get pregnant) form prior to beginning Accutane (isotretinoin) therapy. They should be given an opportunity to view the patient DVD provided by the manufacturer to the prescriber. The DVD includes information about contraception, the most common reasons that contraception fails, and the importance of using 2 forms of effective contraception when taking teratogenic drugs and comprehensive information about types of potential birth defects which could occur if a female patient who is pregnant takes Accutane (isotretinoin) at any time during pregnancy. Female patients should be seen by their prescribers monthly and have a urine or serum pregnancy test, in a CLIA-certified laboratory, performed each month during treatment to confirm negative pregnancy status before another Accutane prescription is written (see Boxed CONTRAINDICATIONS AND WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS).
  • Accutane (isotretinoin) is found in the semen of male patients taking Accutane (isotretinoin) , but the amount delivered to a female partner would be about 1 million times lower than an oral dose of 40 mg. While the no-effect limit for isotretinoin induced embryopathy is unknown, 20 years of postmarketing reports include 4 with isolated defects compatible with features of retinoid exposed fetuses; however 2 of these reports were incomplete, and 2 had other possible explanations for the defects observed.
  • Prescribers should be alert to the warning signs of psychiatric disorders to guide patients to receive the help they need. Therefore, prior to initiation of Accutane (isotretinoin) treatment, patients and family members should be asked about any history of psychiatric disorder, and at each visit during treatment patients should be assessed for symptoms of depression, mood disturbance, psychosis, or aggression to determine if further evaluation may be necessary. Signs and symptoms of depression include sad mood, hopelessness, feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness, loss of pleasure or interest in activities, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, change in sleep pattern, change in weight or appetite, suicidal thoughts or attempts, restlessness, irritability, acting on dangerous impulses, and persistent physical symptoms unresponsive to treatment. Patients should stop Accutane (isotretinoin) and the patient or a family member should promptly contact their prescriber if the patient develops depression, mood disturbance, psychosis, or aggression, without waiting until the next visit. Discontinuation of Accutane (isotretinoin) treatment may be insufficient; further evaluation may be necessary. While such monitoring may be helpful, it may not detect all patients at risk. Patients may report mental health problems or family history of psychiatric disorders. These reports should be discussed with the patient and/or the patient's family. A referral to a mental health professional may be necessary. The physician should consider whether Accutane (isotretinoin) therapy is appropriate in this setting; for some patients the risks may outweigh the benefits of Accutane (isotretinoin) therapy.
  • Patients must be informed that some patients, while taking Accutane (isotretinoin) or soon after stopping Accutane (isotretinoin) , have become depressed or developed other serious mental problems. Symptoms of depression include sad, “anxious” or empty mood, irritability, acting on dangerous impulses, anger, loss of pleasure or interest in social or sports activities, sleeping too much or too little, changes in weight or appetite, school or work performance going down, or trouble concentrating. Some patients taking Accutane (isotretinoin) have had thoughts about hurting themselves or putting an end to their own lives (suicidal thoughts). Some people tried to end their own lives. And some people have ended their own lives. There were reports that some of these people did not appear depressed. There have been reports of patients on Accutane (isotretinoin) becoming aggressive or violent. No one knows if Accutane (isotretinoin) caused these behaviors or if they would have happened even if the person did not take Accutane (isotretinoin) . Some people have had other signs of depression while taking Accutane (isotretinoin) .
  • Patients must be informed that they must not share Accutane (isotretinoin) with anyone else because of the risk of birth defects and other serious adverse events.
  • Patients must be informed not to donate blood during therapy and for 1 month following discontinuation of the drug because the blood might be given to a pregnant female patient whose fetus must not be exposed to Accutane (isotretinoin) .
  • Patients should be reminded to take Accutane with a meal (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION). To decrease the risk of esophageal irritation, patients should swallow the capsules with a full glass of liquid.
  • Patients should be informed that transient exacerbation (flare) of acne has been seen, generally during the initial period of therapy.
  • Wax epilation and skin resurfacing procedures (such as dermabrasion, laser) should be avoided during Accutane (isotretinoin) therapy and for at least 6 months thereafter due to the possibility of scarring (see ADVERSE REACTIONS: Skin and Appendages).
  • Patients should be advised to avoid prolonged exposure to UV rays or sunlight.
  • Patients should be informed that they may experience decreased tolerance to contact lenses during and after therapy.
  • Patients should be informed that approximately 16% of patients treated with Accutane (isotretinoin) in a clinical trial developed musculoskeletal symptoms (including arthralgia) during treatment. In general, these symptoms were mild to moderate, but occasionally required discontinuation of the drug. Transient pain in the chest has been reported less frequently. In the clinical trial, these symptoms generally cleared rapidly after discontinuation of Accutane (isotretinoin) , but in some cases persisted (see ADVERSE REACTIONS: Musculoskeletal). There have been rare postmarketing reports of rhabdomyolysis, some associated with strenuous physical activity (see Laboratory Tests: CPK).
  • Pediatric patients and their caregivers should be informed that approximately 29% (104/358) of pediatric patients treated with Accutane (isotretinoin) developed back pain. Back pain was severe in 13.5% (14/104) of the cases and occurred at a higher frequency in female patients than male patients. Arthralgias were experienced in 22% (79/358) of pediatric patients. Arthralgias were severe in 7.6% (6/79) of patients. Appropriate evaluation of the musculoskeletal system should be done in patients who present with these symptoms during or after a course of Accutane (isotretinoin) . Consideration should be given to discontinuation of Accutane (isotretinoin) if any significant abnormality is found.
  • Neutropenia and rare cases of agranulocytosis have been reported. Accutane (isotretinoin) should be discontinued if clinically significant decreases in white cell counts occur.
  • Patients should be advised that severe skin reactions (Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis) have been reported in post-marketing data. Accutane (isotretinoin) should be discontinued if clinically significant skin reactions occur.
Hypersensitivity

Anaphylactic reactions and other allergic reactions have been reported. Cutaneous allergic reactions and serious cases of allergic vasculitis, often with purpura (bruises and red patches) of the extremities and extracutaneous involvement (including renal) have been reported. Severe allergic reaction necessitates discontinuation of therapy and appropriate medical management.

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis and Impairment of Fertility

In male and female Fischer 344 rats given oral isotretinoin at dosages of 8 or 32 mg/kg/day (1.3 to 5.3 times the recommended clinical dose of 1.0 mg/kg/day, respectively, after normalization for total body surface area) for greater than 18 months, there was a dose-related increased incidence of pheochromocytoma relative to controls. The incidence of adrenal medullary hyperplasia was also increased at the higher dosage in both sexes. The relatively high level of spontaneous pheochromocytomas occurring in the male Fischer 344 rat makes it an equivocal model for study of this tumor; therefore, the relevance of this tumor to the human population is uncertain.

The Ames test was conducted with isotretinoin in two laboratories. The results of the tests in one laboratory were negative while in the second laboratory a weakly positive response (less than 1.6 x background) was noted in S. typhimurium TA100 when the assay was conducted with metabolic activation. No dose-response effect was seen and all other strains were negative. Additionally, other tests designed to assess genotoxicity (Chinese hamster cell assay, mouse micronucleus test, S. cerevisiae D7 assay, in vitro clastogenesis assay with human-derived lymphocytes, and unscheduled DNA synthesis assay) were all negative.

In rats, no adverse effects on gonadal function, fertility, conception rate, gestation or parturition were observed at oral dosages of isotretinoin of 2, 8, or 32 mg/kg/day (0.3, 1.3, or 5.3 times the recommended clinical dose of 1.0 mg/kg/day, respectively, after normalization for total body surface area).

In dogs, testicular atrophy was noted after treatment with oral isotretinoin for approximately 30 weeks at dosages of 20 or 60 mg/kg/day (10 or 30 times the recommended clinical dose of 1.0 mg/kg/day, respectively, after normalization for total body surface area). In general, there was microscopic evidence for appreciable depression of spermatogenesis but some sperm were observed in all testes examined and in no instance were completely atrophic tubules seen. In studies of 66 men, 30 of whom were patients with nodular acne under treatment with oral isotretinoin, no significant changes were noted in the count or motility of spermatozoa in the ejaculate. In a study of 50 men (ages 17 to 32 years) receiving Accutane (isotretinoin) therapy for nodular acne, no significant effects were seen on ejaculate volume, sperm count, total sperm motility, morphology or seminal plasma fructose.

Pregnancy

Category X. See Boxed CONTRAINDICATIONS AND WARNINGS.

Nursing Mothers

It is not known whether this drug is excreted in human milk. Because of the potential for adverse effects, nursing mothers should not receive Accutane (isotretinoin) .

Pediatric Use

The use of Accutane (isotretinoin) in pediatric patients less than 12 years of age has not been studied. The use of Accutane (isotretinoin) for the treatment of severe recalcitrant nodular acne in pediatric patients ages 12 to 17 years should be given careful consideration, especially for those patients where a known metabolic or structural bone disease exists (see PRECAUTIONS: General). Use of Accutane (isotretinoin) in this age group for severe recalcitrant nodular acne is supported by evidence from a clinical study comparing 103 pediatric patients (13 to 17 years) to 197 adult patients ( ≥ 18 years). Results from this study demonstrated that Accutane (isotretinoin) , at a dose of 1 mg/kg/day given in two divided doses, was equally effective in treating severe recalcitrant nodular acne in both pediatric and adult patients.

In studies with Accutane (isotretinoin) , adverse reactions reported in pediatric patients were similar to those described in adults except for the increased incidence of back pain and arthralgia (both of which were sometimes severe) and myalgia in pediatric patients (see ADVERSE REACTIONS).

In an open-label clinical trial (N=217) of a single course of therapy with Accutane (isotretinoin) for severe recalcitrant nodular acne, bone density measurements at several skeletal sites were not significantly decreased (lumbar spine change > -4% and total hip change > -5%) or were increased in the majority of patients. One patient had a decrease in lumbar spine bone mineral density > 4% based on unadjusted data. Sixteen (7.9%) patients had decreases in lumbar spine bone mineral density > 4%, and all the other patients (92%) did not have significant decreases or had increases (adjusted for body mass index). Nine patients (4.5%) had a decrease in total hip bone mineral density > 5% based on unadjusted data. Twenty-one (10.6%) patients had decreases in total hip bone mineral density > 5%, and all the other patients (89%) did not have significant decreases or had increases (adjusted for body mass index). Follow-up studies performed in 8 of the patients with decreased bone mineral density for up to 11 months thereafter demonstrated increasing bone density in 5 patients at the lumbar spine, while the other 3 patients had lumbar spine bone density measurements below baseline values. Total hip bone mineral densities remained below baseline (range -1.6% to -7.6%) in 5 of 8 patients (62.5%).

In a separate open-label extension study of 10 patients, ages 13 to 18 years, who started a second course of Accutane (isotretinoin) 4 months after the first course, two patients showed a decrease in mean lumbar spine bone mineral density up to 3.25% (see WARNINGS: Skeletal: Bone Mineral Density).

Geriatric Use

Clinical studies of isotretinoin did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 years and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Although reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between elderly and younger patients, effects of aging might be expected to increase some risks associated with isotretinoin therapy (see WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS).

REFERENCES

5. Katz RA, Jorgensen H, Nigra TP. Elevation of serum triglyceride levels from oral isotretinoin in disorders of keratinization. Arch Dermatol 116:1369-1372, 1980.

6. Ellis CN, Madison KC, Pennes DR, Martel W, Voorhees JJ. Isotretinoin therapy is associated with early skeletal radiographic changes. J Am Acad Dermatol 10:1024-1029, 1984.

Last reviewed on RxList: 1/3/2011
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Warnings
Precautions
A A A

Accutane - User Reviews

Accutane User Reviews

Now you can gain knowledge and insight about a drug treatment with Patient Discussions.

Here is a collection of user reviews for the medication Accutane sorted by most helpful. Patient Discussions FAQs

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

 

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


Women's Health

Find out what women really need.