Three years after Accutane's withdrawal, derms discuss current prescribing practices

June 1, 2012

Three years after Roche pulled Accutane off the market, On Call wondered whether dermatologists were still using isotretinoin, whether they see problems from these portended side effects, and whether patients and their parents are as concerned about the medication as they used to be.

Key Points

Whether Roche withdrew it from the market because of dangerous side effects or competition from generics has been widely debated. Three generic isotretinoin drugs took its place, and although TV commercials are still running warnings of the drug's dangerous side effects, there's not as much of an uproar as there was when Accutane was pulled.

When the iPLEDGE program went into effect in 2006, some dermatologists told On Call they wondered if it was worth the effort to continue prescribing Accutane. Three years after Roche pulled Accutane off the market, On Call wondered whether dermatologists were still using isotretinoin, whether they see problems from these portended side effects, and whether patients and their parents are as concerned about the medication as they used to be.

Concern waning

In Huntington Beach, Calif., Cole Fulwider, M.D., says patients seem to take the commercial warnings more in stride today.

"Patients realize lawyers are trying to drum up business with the ulcerative colitis ads. They may make people a little nervous, but patients are willing to listen to the realities about potential problems. Most take the ads with a grain of salt because they see them as a growth industry," she says.

Lauren Fine, M.D., on staff at Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital in Chicago, takes a proactive stance and says the warnings generally don't scare off her patients.