Health Guide
Drug Guide

Isotretinoin (Oral route)

Pronunciation:

eye-soe-TRET-i-noin

Brand Names:

Dosage Forms:

Warnings:

Oral route(Capsule, Liquid Filled)

Isotretinoin must not be used by female patients who are or may become pregnant. There is an extremely high risk that severe birth defects will result if pregnancy occurs while taking isotretinoin. If pregnancy does occur during treatment of a female patient who is taking isotretinoin, isotretinoin must be discontinued immediately, and she should be referred to an Obstetrician-Gynecologist experienced in reproductive toxicity for further evaluation and counseling. Because of isotretinoin's teratogenicity, it is approved for marketing only under a special restricted distribution program called iPLEDGE(TM). The prescriber, patient, and pharmacy must be registered and meet all of the requirements of iPLEDGE before distribution .

Classifications:

Therapeutic

Antiacne

Chemical

Retinoid

Uses of This Medicine:

Isotretinoin is used to treat severe, disfiguring nodular acne. It should be used only after other acne medicines have been tried and have failed to help the acne. Isotretinoin may also be used to treat other skin diseases as determined by your doctor.

Isotretinoin must not be used to treat women who are able to bear children unless other forms of treatment have been tried first and have failed. Isotretinoin must not be taken during pregnancy because it causes birth defects in humans. If you are able to bear children, it is very important that you read, understand, and follow the pregnancy warnings for isotretinoin.

This medicine is available only under a registered distribution program called the iPLEDGE™ program.

Once a medicine has been approved for marketing for a certain use, experience may show that it is also useful for other medical problems. Although these uses are not included in product labeling, isotretinoin is used in certain patients with the following medical conditions:

Before Using This Medicine:

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Children

Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of isotretinoin in children younger than 12 years of age. Safety and efficacy have not been established.

This medicine should be used with caution in teenagers, especially those with bone problems or diseases.

Older adults

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of isotretinoin in the elderly. However, elderly patients may have a greater risk of problems and side effects when taking isotretinoin.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy CategoryExplanation
All TrimestersXStudies in animals or pregnant women have demonstrated positive evidence of fetal abnormalities. This drug should not be used in women who are or may become pregnant because the risk clearly outweighs any possible benefit.

Breast-feeding

There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.

Other medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking this medicine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

Other interactions

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using this medicine with any of the following is usually not recommended, but may be unavoidable in some cases. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use this medicine, or give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other medical problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

Proper Use of This Medicine:

Isotretinoin comes with a patient information form and Medication Guide. It is very important that you read and understand this information. Be sure to carefully follow these instructions and ask your doctor if you have any questions.

Women of reproductive age must sign up for a pregnancy risk program called iPLEDGE™ in order to receive their isotretinoin prescription each month. You can sign up on the internet (www.ipledge.com) or by telephone (1-866-495-0654). Be sure to ask your doctor if you have any questions about this program. It is very important that you understand and follow all of the requirements. You will not get another prescription unless you follow the instructions for the program.

Swallow the capsule whole with a full glass (8 ounces) of water or other liquid. Accutane® and its generic products should be taken with food. Absorica® may be taken with or without food. Do not crush, break, chew, or suck the capsule.

It is very important that you take isotretinoin only as directed by your doctor. Do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it for a longer time than your doctor ordered. To do so may increase the chance of side effects.

It is very important that you not share this medicine with anyone else because of the risk of birth defects and other serious side effects.

Absorica® oral capsules should not be substituted with other forms of isotretinoin (eg, Accutane®). Different brands may not work the same way. If you refill your medicine and it looks different, check with your pharmacist.

Dosing

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

Missed dose

If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.

Storage

Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

Keep out of the reach of children.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.

Precautions While Using This Medicine:

It is very important that your doctor check the progress of you or your child at regular visits to make sure this medicine is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.

Isotretinoin causes birth defects in humans if taken during pregnancy. If you suspect that you may have become pregnant, stop taking this medicine and check with your doctor right away.

Using this medicine while you are pregnant can cause very serious birth defects. Use two forms of effective birth control to keep from getting pregnant one month before beginning treatment, while you are using this medicine (even if the medicine is temporarily stopped), and for at least one month after you stop taking the medicine. The most effective forms of birth control are hormone birth control pills, patches, shots, vaginal rings, or implants, an IUD, or a vasectomy (for men). One of these forms of birth control should be combined with a condom, a diaphragm, or a cervical cap.

Isotretinoin must not be taken by women of reproductive age unless two effective forms of birth control have been used for at least 1 month before the start of treatment. Contraception must be continued during the period of treatment, which is up to 20 weeks, and for 1 month after isotretinoin is stopped. Be sure you have discussed this information with your doctor.

If you are a woman who is able to have children, you must have 2 pregnancy tests before beginning treatment with isotretinoin to make sure you are not pregnant. The second pregnancy test must be taken at least 19 days after the first test and during the first 5 days of the menstrual period immediately prior to beginning treatment. In addition, you must have a pregnancy test each month while you are taking this medicine and 1 month after treatment is completed.

Do not take vitamin A or any vitamin supplement containing vitamin A while taking this medicine, unless otherwise directed by your doctor. To do so may increase the chance of side effects.

Do not take other medicines without checking first with your doctor. This includes vitamins, herbal products, and prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines. Some medicines or nutritional supplements (eg, St. John's wort) may cause your birth control pills to not work as well.

During the first 3 weeks you are taking isotretinoin, your skin may become irritated. Also, your acne may seem to get worse before it gets better. Check with your doctor if your skin condition does not improve within 1 to 2 months after starting this medicine or at any time your skin irritation becomes severe. Full improvement continues after you stop taking isotretinoin and may take up to 6 months. Your doctor can help you choose the right skin products to reduce skin dryness and irritation.

You or your child should not donate blood to a blood bank while using isotretinoin or for 30 days after you stop taking it. This is to prevent a pregnant patient from receiving blood that contains the medicine.

In some patients, isotretinoin may cause a decrease in night vision. This problem may occur suddenly. If it does occur, do not drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are not able to see well. Also, check with your doctor.

Isotretinoin may cause dryness of the eyes. If you or your child wear contact lenses, your eyes may be more sensitive to them during the time you are taking isotretinoin and for up to 2 weeks after you stop taking it. To help relieve dryness of the eyes, check with your doctor about using a lubricating solution, such as artificial tears. If eye inflammation occurs, check with your doctor right away.

Isotretinoin may cause dryness of the mouth and nose. For temporary relief of mouth dryness, use sugarless candy or gum, melt bits of ice in your mouth, or use a saliva substitute. However, if dry mouth continues for more than 2 weeks, check with your medical doctor or dentist. Continuing dryness of the mouth may increase the chance of dental disease, including tooth decay, gum disease, and fungus infections.

Avoid overexposing your skin to sunlight, wind, or cold weather. Your skin will be more prone to sunburn, dryness, or irritation, especially during the first 2 or 3 weeks of treatment. However, you or your child should not stop taking this medicine unless the skin irritation becomes too severe. Do not use a sunlamp or tanning beds.

To help isotretinoin work properly, use sunscreen or sunblock lotions with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 on a regular basis. Also, wear protective clothing and hats.

Isotretinoin may cause some people to be agitated, irritable, or display other abnormal behaviors. It may also cause some people to have suicidal thoughts and tendencies or to become more depressed. If you, your child, or your caregiver notice any of these side effects, check with you doctor right away.

This medicine may increase pressure in your head. This may increase your risk of vision loss or serious brain problems. Check with your doctor right away if you have a bad headache, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, or seizures.

Serious skin reactions can occur with this medicine. Check with your doctor right away if you or your child have any of the following symptoms while using this medicine: blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin, chills, diarrhea, itching, joint or muscle pain, rash, red skin lesions, often with a purple center, sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips, or unusual tiredness or weakness.

Isotretinoin may cause bone or muscle problems, including joint pain, muscle pain or stiffness, or difficulty moving. You may get hurt more easily during rough sports. You may heal more slowly. If this medicine is for your child, tell the doctor if you think your child is not growing properly.

It is very important that you or your child not use wax epilation to remove hair while you are taking isotretinoin and for 6 months after stopping it. Isotretinoin can increase your chance of scarring from wax epilation.

It is very important that you or your child not have any cosmetic procedures to smooth your skin (eg, dermabrasion, laser) while you are taking isotretinoin and for 6 months after stopping it. Isotretinoin can increase your chance of scarring from these procedures.

This medicine may affect blood sugar levels. If you or your child are diabetic and notice a change in the results of your blood or urine sugar tests, check with your doctor.

Pancreatitis may occur while you are using this medicine. Tell your doctor right away if you or your child have sudden and severe stomach pain, chills, constipation, nausea, vomiting, fever, or lightheadedness.

Isotretinoin may cause some people to have hearing problems within a few weeks after they start taking it. Check with your doctor right away if you or your child have hearing loss, a continuing ringing or buzzing, or any other unexplained noise in the ears.

Check with your doctor right away if you have pain or tenderness in the upper stomach, pale stools, dark urine, loss of appetite, nausea, unusual tiredness or weakness, or yellow eyes or skin. These could be symptoms of a serious liver problem.

Tell your doctor right away if you or your child have abdominal or stomach pain, rectal bleeding, or severe diarrhea. These may be symptoms of a serious condition called inflammatory bowel disease.

This medicine may cause serious allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Call your doctor right away if you have a rash, itching, redness, soreness, or itching skin, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, or any swelling of your hands, face, or mouth while you are using this medicine.

This medicine contains FD&C Yellow No.5 (tartrazine) which may cause an allergic reaction, including asthma, in some people. This reaction is more often seen in people who also have an allergy to aspirin.

This medicine lowers the number of some types of blood cells in your body. Because of this, you or your child may bleed or get infections more easily. To help with these problems, avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Wash your hands often. Stay away from rough sports or other situations where you could be bruised, cut, or injured. Brush and floss your teeth gently. Be careful when using sharp objects, including razors and fingernail clippers.

Side Effects of This Medicine:

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

More common
Bone or joint pain
burning, redness, itching, or other signs of eye inflammation
difficulty with moving
nosebleeds
scaling, redness, burning, pain, or other signs of inflammation of the lips
skin infection or rash
Rare
Abdominal or stomach pain (severe)
attempts at suicide or thoughts of suicide (usually stops after medicine is stopped)
back pain
bleeding or inflammation of the gums
blurred vision or other changes in vision
changes in behavior
decreased vision after sunset or before sunrise (sudden or may continue after medicine is stopped)
diarrhea (severe)
headache (severe or continuing)
mental depression
nausea and vomiting
pain or tenderness of the eyes
pain, tenderness, or stiffness in the muscles (long-term treatment)
rectal bleeding
yellow eyes or skin
Incidence not known
Black, tarry stools
bloating
bloody cough
bloody or cloudy urine
bone pain, tenderness, or aching
burning or stinging of the skin
chest pain
confusion
constipation
convulsions
cough or hoarseness
dark-colored urine
decrease in height
difficulty breathing
difficulty speaking
difficulty swallowing
discharge from the eyes
dizziness
double vision
ear pain
excessive tearing
fainting
fast, irregular, pounding, or racing heartbeat or pulse
fever with or without chills
fractures and/or delayed healing
heartburn
high blood pressure
hives or skin rash
inability to move the arms, legs, or facial muscles
inability to speak
indigestion
inflamed tissue from infection
irregular yellow patch or lump on the skin
irritation
joint pain, redness, stiffness, or swelling
lack or slowing of normal growth in children
loosening of the fingernails
loss of appetite
loss of bladder control
loss or change in hearing
muscle cramps, spasms, or weakness
pain in the ribs, arms, or legs
pain or burning in the throat
pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
painful cold sores or blisters on the lips, nose, eyes, or genitals
painful or difficult urination
pains in the chest, groin, or legs, especially calves of the legs
pains in the stomach, side, or abdomen, possibly radiating to the back
pale skin
pinpoint red spots on the skin
redness or soreness around the fingernails
redness, soreness, or itching skin
sensitivity of the eyes to sunlight
sneezing
sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or tongue or inside the mouth
stuffy or runny nose
sudden loss of consciousness
sudden loss of coordination
sudden onset of severe acne on chest and trunk
sudden onset of slurred speech
swelling of the eyelids, face, lips, hands, lower legs, or feet
swollen, painful or tender lymph glands in the neck, armpit, or groin
tightness in the chest
unusual bleeding or bruising
unusual weight gain or loss
use of extreme physical or emotional force
watery or bloody diarrhea

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common
Crusting of the skin
difficulty in wearing contact lenses (may continue after medicine is stopped)
dryness of the eyes (may continue after treatment is stopped)
dryness of the mouth or nose
dryness or itching of the skin
headache (mild)
increased sensitivity of the skin to sunlight
peeling of the skin on palms of the hands or soles of the feet
stomach upset
thinning of the hair (may continue after treatment is stopped)
Incidence not known
Abnormal menstruation
burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, “pins and needles”, or tingling feeling
changes in fingernails or toenails
continuing ringing or buzzing, or other unexplained noise in the ears
dandruff
darkening of the skin
flushing
hair abnormalities
hair loss
increased hair growth, especially on the face
lightening of normal skin color
lightening of treated areas of dark skin
nervousness
oily skin
redness of the face
severe sunburn
skin rash, encrusted, scaly and oozing
stomach burning
sweating
trouble sleeping
unusual drowsiness, dullness, tiredness, weakness, or feeling of sluggishness
unusually warm skin of the face
voice changes

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Last Updated: 10/12/2016

Thomson Micromedex. All rights reserved.

Thomson & A.D.A.M