WebMD Update: This drug is no longer available in the US. Learn More
Women who are pregnant must not use isotretinoin. Women must avoid becoming pregnant while taking this medication. Serious (sometimes fatal) birth defects, miscarriages, and premature births have occurred when this drug has been used during pregnancy.
For female patients, two effective forms of birth control (or complete avoidance of sexual intercourse) must be used for 1 month before starting isotretinoin, during use, and for 1 month after stopping this drug. You must also have monthly pregnancy-avoidance counseling from your doctor. Do not use "minipills" for birth control (non-estrogen-containing pills) since they may not work as well with isotretinoin. If you are late in having your period, or if you have sexual intercourse at any time without using two effective forms of birth control, stop taking this medication and contact your doctor right away. (See also the Precautions section.)
Only patients enrolled in the iPLEDGE program may obtain and use isotretinoin. You will need to register with iPLEDGE and view a video at your doctor's office before receiving your prescription. Only physicians enrolled in iPLEDGE may prescribe isotretinoin, and only pharmacies enrolled in the program may dispense it. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details about the iPLEDGE program and for more information about the risks and benefits of using this medication.
For female patients who are able to become pregnant (even if not sexually active), you will need to contact iPLEDGE every month, either through the internet or by telephone, and answer required questions every time you fill your prescription and 1 month after your last dose.
These requirements apply in the United States. If you live in Canada or any other country, consult your doctor and pharmacist for your specific regulations.
This medication is used to treat severe cystic acne (also known as nodular acne) that has not responded to other treatment (e.g., benzoyl peroxide or clindamycin applied to the skin or tetracycline or minocycline taken by mouth). It belongs to a class of drugs known as retinoids. It works by decreasing facial oil (sebum) production. High amounts of sebum can lead to severe acne. If left untreated, severe acne may cause permanent scarring.
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Read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist before you start using isotretinoin and each time you get a refill. Read and sign a Patient Information/Informed Consent form before you start taking this medication. If you have any questions about isotretinoin, consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking the medication.
Swallow capsules whole. Do not crush or chew them. Isotretinoin is usually taken twice daily for 15-20 weeks, or as directed by your doctor. Directions for most generic forms of isotretinoin state that it should be taken with meals. However, the FDA has indicated that the Absorica brand may be taken with or without food. Food helps increase absorption of this drug into your bloodstream. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information. Take this drug with a full glass of water, and do not lie down for at least 10 minutes after taking it.
The dosage is based on your medical condition, weight, and response to treatment.
Your acne may worsen during the first few days of taking this drug, and it may take up to 1-2 months before you notice the full benefit of this medication. If severe acne returns, a second course of treatment may be started after you have stopped taking the drug for 2 months. The manufacturer does not recommend long-term use of isotretinoin. Do not take more than the recommended dose.
Since this drug can be absorbed through the skin and lungs and may harm an unborn baby, women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not handle this medication or breathe the dust from the capsules.
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CONDITIONS OF USE: The information in this database is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of healthcare professionals. The information is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions or adverse effects, nor should it be construed to indicate that use of a particular drug is safe, appropriate or effective for you or anyone else. A healthcare professional should be consulted before taking any drug, changing any diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment.