Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Acne Health Center

Font Size

Popular Acne Medication May Face New Marketing Restrictions

WebMD Health News

Sept. 15, 2000 (Washington) -- After almost two decades on the U.S. market, a popular treatment for severe acne may face new marketing restrictions, aimed at preventing pregnant women from using the medication and at keeping women who are on the drug from getting pregnant.

At public meetings scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, FDA officials will ask a committee of experts to review safety information about and recommend possible new restrictions for Hoffmann-La Roche's Accutane, a treatment for severe acne. The drug, which is given to patients who have failed to respond to other anti-acne measures, is known to cause abnormalities in fetuses.

Recent studies have reported that women on Accutane continue to get pregnant, although Hoffmann-La Roche implemented a Pregnancy Prevention Program in 1989 aimed at drawing attention to the potential for birth defects. As part of the program, all women who are prescribed the drug are asked to sign a disclosure form saying they're aware of the risks.

In January, the latest of these studies concluded that women appear to be ignoring these warnings, even when they know about the potential consequences. In that study, a CDC-sponsored survey of 14 women who got pregnant while on the drug, eight of the women reported having sexual intercourse without contraception at least once, and 13 said that they did not use two forms of contraception, as recommended on the drug's label. All 14 women admitted knowing about the effects of the drug on a fetus.

"The study shows that some of these pregnancies were preventable and that is of concern," Peggy Honein, PhD, MPH, the study author, told WebMD at the time.

The results can be devastating, Honein added, noting that four of the 14 pregnancies ended in miscarriage and that one infant was born with major malformations. Four live births with no major malformations were reported; the remainder of the women had abortions.

Still, Hoffmann-La Roche stands by its pregnancy-prevention program, company spokesperson Melissa Ziriakus tells WebMD. "We feel that it is a very effective program," she says.

In documents supplied to the FDA committee members, Hoffmann-La Roche executives say that data from one large HMO database, combined with that from a recent large clinical trial, suggest that the program has reduced the rate of pregnancy among women on the medication. It cut the pregnancy rate by 80 to 90 percent from what would otherwise be expected in this population, the company says.

Today on WebMD

Girl with acne
See if you know how to control your acne.
happy woman with clear skin
Triggers and treatments for blackheads, whiteheads, and cystic acne.
Bride with acne
Dos and don’ts for hiding breakouts.
close-up of a young man soaping his face
Why adults get acne and how to treat it.
Boy cleaning acne face
HPV Vaccine Future
beauty cream
Bride with acne
Woman applying mineral makeup
Arrows pointing on teen girl blemish

WebMD Special Sections