I was surprised to read that Roche Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Accutane, decided to stop selling the name brand of the product in late June. The company cited declining sales as their reason. Since 2002, generic forms of Accutane (isotretinoin) have been available and it turns out over 95% of the time doctors prescribe a generic. Roche’s decision to stop selling also came shortly after a jury awarded $33 million in damages to people who claimed Accutane caused bowel disease.

What does this mean for us? Well, it gives me pause because yet again Accutane’s side effects are in the spotlight. While some people with recalcitrant, widespread, deeply scarring acne regard Accutane as a godsend, I would have to think twice before agreeing to have a loved one of mine take it for anything less than severe acne.

For people who choose to take it, isotretinoin, the active ingredient in Accutane, is still available in its generic form. However, that brings up another concern. Are generics reliable? This study performed in 2006 cast doubt over the quality of generic forms of isotretinoin. It is only one study, and more are needed, but I’d like to see further oversight and studies performed to ensure product efficacy. Let’s keep our eye closely on this issue.


Leave a Reply

  • Frank

    i read about this a while back, its very interesting.

  • Blayne

    I myself have used the brand name “Accutane” for the past 5 months. I went to the pharmacy a week ago only to find out they (and no other local pharmacy) sold it anymore. Im glad I finally know why!

  • Claire

    To be considered a generic of accutane, the generic must contain the same amount of the primary ingredient of accutane…istretinoin. Thus, generics brands are comparable to name brand.

  • PAt

    Generics are not the same as name brand. Generics will usually include the the main ingredient but you never know what else they put. There have been cases where generic forms have caused harm while the name brand did not.

  • Katrina

    A good example is like Tylenol – my sister can take that okay – but if she takes a “knock-off” brand (or generic as we call it) she will have an allergic reaction. There is a reason why they label them “generic.” Some say – you always get what you pay for.

  • Eleonora

    I’m still using Roche since I live in Europe and they still sell it out here, but my dermatologist was also very strict on it. He absolutely wanted to have me on the Roche medication and not on a generic. Het says that the fake versions are not working as well because the body is not extracting the same amount of isotretinoin from the pills (and if you were to increase the dosage to make it work better it would then cause more side effects). I wished I had this dermatologist from the start because he also gave me real Minocin which didn’t cause any side effects while the generic that another derm prescribed have caused me permanent damage… No generics for me anymore, no matter what medication.

  • Roy


    Accutane has been abused so much for mild cases, it was clear that it was meant to be for severe acne.

  • Christian

    This is totally awesome! This drug is so bad for everyones longer term health! I hope nobody is on this drug, IF YOU NEED HELP WITH YOUR ACNE, PM ME BECAUSE I HAVE CLEARED MINE AND WANT TO HELP!

  • Alice

    You guys are scare out of your mind with Accutane (or it’s generic versions). This medication is fantastic, if you use it right. My own sister took Accutane in her early 20’s for about 3 months. It is been 5 years ago and since her skin is PEACH PERFECT. I am jelaous, but I cannot take Accutane. Her pores are invisible, where before they were large and had blackheads and pimples – whiteheads, deep skin pimples, you name it she had it.
    Like you, she was scared out of her mind to take Accutane. She thought she was gonna get Depressed, Suicidal and all sorts of crap. Nothing has happened. She reported some dry skin, but that’s about it.

    What is important with Accutane, that you do not have sex and if you do, use at least 2 forms of protection. You heard me right! You get pregnant while using Accutane your baby will have severe birth defects. That’s not a maybe. That’s a given.

  • Leesa

    Have used accutane twice – only side effects are dry skin. This medication is a god send . . . just wish they were not so paranoid about prescribing it. There are side effects with all drugs . . even over the counter.
    Anyone know a good on-line pharmacy for it?

  • Pharm D

    Hi – I’m a pharmacist. Wanted to clear this up (pardon the acne pun!):

    In order to be rated as an A-B generic by the FDA, which would let a pharmacist or doctor substitute a generic at will, a drug must prove both chemical equivalence (the same amount of active ingredient) as WELL as bioequivalence (the tablets/capsules/etc) must break down and distribute the same way as well.

    There are very few cases where generics are not quite the same, but this is only when changing between formulations of very specific products. These differences may occur when changing between generics, brand to generic, or generic to brand, and are rarely an issue once a patient has been stabilized on any particular formulation. Drugs that sometimes show this behavior include warfarin (a blood thinner), levothyroxin (a thyroid medication), and cyclosporin (can be used for lots of things, up to and including chemotherapy and transplant rejection depending on dosage)

    99.99% of generics are chemically and biologically identical to their brand counterparts – the only difference would be their appearance and certainly their price. Don’t pay too much for brand meds!

    Pharm D.

  • Hillary

    I heard about that a while ago, they said it doesn´t make enough money for them. But there are also ton of cases of bad side effects. We´ll never know!

  • zermatt

    This is a sensitive subject.
    Has anyone experienced erectile dysfuntion from taking any type of accutane?
    My son is 19 and has experienced this. I have read others blogs with men having the same problem. This seems to be a horrific unreported problem due to the sensitive nature. Can anyone help us go forward and try and find out how to solve this. I pray this is not permanent. He was on it for at least 2 years.
    This is our nightmare….please help if you can. We have another urology appointment next month.

  • Anonymous

    @ Zermatt and others. I’ve heard of several stories about horrific side effects linked to Accutane, and from what I gathered Roche didn’t disclose some of these side effects to the FDA. Drug companies are required to disclose these risks, and I think they should make it clear the odds of developing such life-altering conditions.

    An attorney I work with pointed me to this website for more information: *link edited out*. I hope it helps others who may have experiences serious complications after taking Accutane.

  • Gay Lynn

    Accutane & generic forms are too dangerous. My 19 yr. old has been having severe digestive pain and serious symptoms. He’s lost 15 – 20 lbs. so far because it’s too painful to eat. Gastroenterologist so far cannot help him. Clear skin is not worth the potential side effects which may last a lifetime. The prescribing derm. said he hadn’t seen any serious side effects until us. You could be the next unlucky one.

  • Alex

    my derm, whom i trust (after seeing 14 very ineffective or ill informed) also said there had been no reported side effects of the thousands he’s treated with accutane and he’s had the greatest success with it. o

    but ‘m skeptical and surprised and taking only 1/3 his prescription (low dose). i have rosacea and somewhat terrified–though tried all else and have read low dose can do wonders.

  • ann

    i have heard that this product has not just caused bad side effects but has caused even death. hmmm acne or death. there are safer ways of curing things. thousands of people die every year due to pharmaceutical drugs. we all trust in the FDA to keep us safe when the pharmaceutical company is what is funding alot of the FDA. sounds like a conflict of interest to me. everyone wants a quick fix, take a pill and its gone but people dont think about the side effects. people who get cancer dont usually die from cancer but from the chemotherapy. if i ever get cancer im going to use gerson therapy, i kinda want to just live by there guidelines anyway. but i dont have cancer i have acne as far as i know thats about it. for my acne i am currently being treated by the american institute of advanced medicine, its a 90 day program, im about half way through and my acne is almost completely gone. if you are interested go to theaiam.com.

  • Brad English

    Hi. I understand that diet is a big part of the process of helping to eliminate acne. I use sulfaderm from *link removed*. I had great results with my acne and it also helped on my brothers eczema as well.

  • Cindy

    Our beautiful 28 yo daughter used accutane at
    the age of 18 as I refused to sign when she was
    younger. She has just been diagnosed with
    Crohn’s disease — look it up. It will last a
    lifetime — is this what you want? We were
    only warned about pregnancy and possible
    dry skin during treatment — now she has to
    live with this. Who knows what else it has
    done to her body.