Accutane Side Effects May Double Risk of Pink Eye, Other Eye Problems

New research has linked side effects of Accutane and the generic equivalents of the popular acne drug to an increased risk of various eye problems, including pink eye, styes and chronic dryness. 

In a study published this week in the Archives of Dermatology, researchers looked at data on 14,682 Israeli adolescents and young adults who were new users of Accutane and other isotretinoin-based drugs.

According to the findings, eye problems from Accutane occurred in nearly 14% of the children who took the drugs.

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Some of the risk seems to be tied to acne itself, as children who did not take the drug, but still had significant acne problems, were diagnosed with eye problems 9.6% of the time, compared to only 7.1% of children who neither took the drugs nor had acne problems.

Researchers found that the strongest association appeared to be with conjunctivitis, commonly referred to as pink eye, and concluded that Accutane may be associated with short-term ocular events, which health care professionals should consider when prescribing acne treatments.

Accutane (isotretinoin) has been used by more than 16 million people worldwide since it was first introduced by Roche in the early 1980s as a treatment for severe acne.

Roche discontinued Accutane in June 2009, due to the increasing costs associated with the litigation over Accutane side effects, which have previously been linked to a risk of inflamatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. However, a number of generic versions of Accutane remain available under names such as Claravis, Sotret, Amnesteem and generic isotretinoin.

More than 7,000 Accutane lawsuits are currently pending against manufacturers of the drug. All of the complaints involve similar allegations that the popular acne drug carried inadequate warnings about the risk of bowel problems, which could develop years after the medication is used.

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