Accutane (isotretinoin) is an acne drug linked to very serious side effects including inflammatory bowel disease. The drug was voluntarily recalled, in 2009, by maker Roche Holding AG after former Accutane users were awarded over $33 million for Accutane injuries. However, isotretinoin is still available under brand names Sotret, Claravis, and Amnesteem.

Birth Defects

The risk of birth defect in babies of women taking Accutane is so high and so well-established that a program called iPLEDGE was implemented in 2006. The program is meant to prevent women who are pregnant or could become pregnant from taking isotretinoin. It requires women of childbearing years to use at least two forms of birth control when using the drug. The only exception is for women who have had hysterectomies.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Accutane can cause inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Not to be confused with irritable bowel syndrome, IBD is a dangerous medical condition which can be fatal. It is not resolved by stopping Accutane use. There is no cure and no consistently effective treatment or way to manage the symptoms. IBD is painful, debilitative, and typically progressive.

IBD is a group of autoimmune disorders which cause inflammation of the intestines. IBD can affect the entire digestive tract from the mouth to the anus and includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Crohn’s Disease

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease can include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Anal fissures
  • Fistulas (tunnels) connecting the intestine to the bladder, vagina, or skin
  • Skin lesions
  • Oral lesions
  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

Crohn’s disease can have devastating consequences and the complications can be fatal. Tissues are damaged seep in the intestinal wall. Complications of Crohn’s disease can include:

  • Malnutrition
  • Specific and severe vitamin or mineral deficiencies, and all the health problems they can cause
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Ulcers, fistulas, and abscesses in the digestive tract
  • Scar tissue in the digestive tract
  • Thickening of the bowel wall
  • Intestinal blockage

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis affects the colon. Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Severe urgency to have bowel movement
  • Painful, but unproductive feeling of needing to move bowels
  • Rectal pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Night sweats

Complications of ulcerative colitis and secondary conditions can be very serious. Ulcerative colitis can progress to fulminant colitis, a medical emergency. In fulminant colitis the entire colon is inflamed causing severe abdominal pain, ongoing bloody diarrhea, and dehydration. Fulminant colitis can lead to shock or a condition called toxic megacolon. In toxic megacolon the colon is dilated and can rupture.

Other complications and secondary conditions resulting from ulcerative colitis can include:

  • Anemia
  • Eye inflammation
  • Skin rashes
  • Liver disease
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis

If you have developed IBD while using Accutane, an Accutane injury attorney in your area can help you get the compensation you need and deserve.