A recently released study solidified evidence of a link between the acne drug Accutane and inflammatory bowel disease. In June 2009, Accutane was pulled from the market, after early signs of a link to inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammatory bowel disease is a painful condition where the intestines become chronically red and swollen, and surgery to remove all or part of the colon may be necessary. Accutane is used to treat severe, scarring acne. Currently, generic forms of the drug isotretinoin are available, but the brand name Accutane was withdrawn from the market by Roche Holding.
The link to inflammatory bowel disease is the latest problem for Accutane, which is already known to cause serious birth defects if taken during pregnancy. That risk is so great that women using Accutane "must register with the government, sign a consent form saying that they understand the medication’s risks, use two forms of birth control, and submit to monthly pregnancy tests." Accutane is also linked to an increased risk of depression, including suicidal behavior. Other side effects include joint and muscle pain, liver toxicity, increased cholesterol, and increased sensitivity to the sun. In addition to being used as a treatment for severe acne, isotretinoin is occasionally used to treat psoriasis, lupus and cancer.
Accutane was approved in 1982, and was one of Roche’s best-selling drugs.