Accutane (or isotretinoin) is an anti-acne medication that has long been linked with a variety of very serious side effects. Young women prescribed the drug were required to be on birth control due to the high prevalence of significant birth defects. The drug was also linked to serious behavioral side effects, including:
- Serious depression
- Suicidal ideation
Data indicated that teenagers prescribed Accutane attempted suicide at a significantly higher rate than their peers, causing the Food and Drug Administration to re-evaluate the medication in light of additional findings. Less documented but still significantly significant increases in aggression were also reported, though less commonly than the increased suicide risk.
A defense attorney in Boulder, Colorado is seeking to draw attention to the link between Accutane and aggression after his client was charged with murdering a 17-year-old girl. The young man who is accused of the crime is 15 and discontinued use of the drug after the incident. In pretrial motions, the defense has retained an expert witness regarding the behavioral changes witnessed in teenagers prescribed isotretinoin.
Teenagers have different biological reactions to pharmaceuticals than adults do, likely due to the different developmental stages of the brain. Many drugs, including Accutane and SSRIs, have been linked to major behavioral changes in this age cohort, with an increased incidence of suicidal and homicidal ideation.
The popularity of Accutane was very understandable, as self-image is extremely important to teenagers, and problem acne is linked to lower self-esteem. But improved self-esteem and skin are certainly not worth risking the lives of teenagers, due to either increased suicide rate or increased likelihood of violence.
If you or someone you love suffered adverse side effects from Accutane, it is not too late to hold the manufacturer responsible for their actions. Please, consult with an experienced attorney regarding your case to determine the likelihood the prescription was linked to the negative outcome.