Dr. Heck describes Accutane, an acne medication, and recalls why a sexually active woman has to take extra contraception precautions while on this medication.
Accutane is a fairly old drug, but it is an absolute gem of a drug. There’s nothing like it. There’s no other drug on the market that can state that they cure acne permanently 80% of the time.
It is very difficult to prescribe because I iPLEDGE is a set of rules and regulations that was put into place in March of 2006. We only use it for the severe scarring cystic acne. That’s when it is indicated, but it is a wonderful drug. It is approximately a five-month treatment, many labs have to be drawn, the patients have to see their dermatologist monthly, but it is a wonderful drug.
Accutane itself doesn’t increase the risk of pregnancy, but when a woman of childbearing age is on Accutane she has to be on two forms of birth control and then abstinence only count for one, so we place almost everybody on a birth control pill and then they have to choose a second form of birth control because Accutane can cause, it’s a teratogen. It can cause deformed babies and it’s not dose-dependent. So one pill taken at the wrong time of pregnancy can cause a baby to be born with no arms and no legs. So we take extreme caution with the drug.
About Dr. Shannon Heck, M.D.:
Shannon Heck, M.D., F.A.A.D., is a board certified dermatologist and a partner in a large, thriving dermatologic practice in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona. She specializes in general and cosmetic dermatology.