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Accutane Side Effects

Jan 1, 2002 | Capital News

Casey Crimmins is a senior at Columbia High School. His dream is to become an actor. But when he would watch TV or go to see a movie, he noticed the actors had something he didn't, clear skin.

He said, "When you're a kid, when you're a teenager, basically everyone wants clear skin. It's a fact of life. You see the people on TV and they have clear skin and it's just something that you want."

After trying a number of acne medications that didn't work, Crimmins' dermatologist, Judith Ann Mysliborski of Albany Medical Center prescribed him Accutane. She said this was a last resort.

She said, "The mild, occasional blemish, they don't get Accutane. It's the severe cases that do."

It's only the severe cases because Accutane has a number of side effects, including brain problems, abdomen and liver problems, and a general allergic reactions to name a few. But it's a list of side effects added this past November that is stirring up controversy: suicide, attempted suicide and suicidal thoughts.

Dr. Mysliborski of Albany Medical Center is skeptical. She said, "I think one of the first things we need to do is separate background suicide rates, unfortunately, in teenagers from what happens to people on Accutane."

CDC has released suicide rates for acne patients to be 11 per 100,000. And what are the rates for that same age group who take Accutane?

Dr. Mysliborski said, "If you look at the Accutane prescriptions, 13 million that have been written since 1982, the suicide rate is 1.8 per 100,000. So it appears to be less."

Being a teenager is hard enough. Being a teenager with severe acne makes things even worse. Although some critics have claimed that Accutane can cause depression, some doctors believe that condition may have already existed.

Dr. Mysliborski said, "A face full of cists, that's not particularly good for the ego. That may depress a child and rightfully so."

Dr. Mysliborski believes the issue needs further to be investigated and all acne patients, regardless of treatment need to monitored. She said because Accutane works so well, she is adamant about keeping it on the shelves.

She said, "I absolutely would recommend Accutane and I truly do prescribe it, but I monitor my patients very carefully."

Crimmins said for him, Accutane cleared his skin and raised his self-esteem.

He said, "After having that confidence to approach people and not think they're looking at my poor complexion, it does give you that boost of self confidence."

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