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Isotretinoin (INN) (etymology and pronunciation), also known as 13-cis retinoic acid and first marketed as Accutane by Hoffmann-La Roche, is a medication primarily used to treat cystic acne. Rarely, it is also used to prevent certain skin cancers (squamous-cell carcinoma), and in the treatment of other cancers. It is used to treat harlequin-type ichthyosis, a usually lethal skin disease, and lamellar ichthyosis. It is a retinoid, meaning it is related to vitamin A, and is found in small quantities naturally in the body. Its isomer, tretinoin, is also an acne drug.
Isotretinoin is primarily used as a treatment for severe acne. The most common adverse effects are a transient worsening of acne (lasting 2–3 weeks), dry lips (cheilitis), dry and fragile skin, and an increased susceptibility to sunburn. Uncommon and rare side effects include: muscle aches and pains (myalgias), and headaches. Isotretinoin is known to cause birth defects due to in utero exposure because of the molecule's close resemblance to retinoic acid, a natural vitamin A derivative which controls normal embryonic development.Medical uses
Isotretinoin is used primarily for severe cystic acne and acne that has not responded to other treatments. Acne treatment usually begins with topical retinoids (e.g., tretinoin, adapalene), in combination with topical antibiotics (e.g., clindamycin, erythromycin) or antiseptics (e.g., benzoyl peroxide-containing preparations), followed by oral antibiotics (e.g., doxycycline or minocycline). In women a cyproterone acetate-containing contraceptive pill can be useful if there are no contraindications.
In cases of hormonal acne, such as in women in their 20s and 30s with cyclical acne, often a course of isotretinoin can permanently improve acne obviating the need for lifelong hormonal manipulation.Indications
It is also somewhat effective for hidradenitis suppurativa and some cases of severe acne rosacea. It can also be used to help treat harlequin ichthyosis, lamellar ichthyosis and is used in xeroderma pigmentosum cases to relieve keratoses. Isotretinoin has been used to treat the extremely rare condition fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva. It is also used for treatment of neuroblastoma, a form of nerve cancer.
Isotretinoin therapy has furthermore proven effective against genital warts in experimental use, but is rarely used for this indication as there are more effective treatments. Isotretinoin may represent an efficacious and safe alternative systemic form of therapy for RCA of the cervix. In most countries this therapy is currently unapproved and only used if other therapies failed.Dosage
The dose of isotretinoin patients receive is dependent on their weight and the severity of the condition. High-dose treatments are administered between 0.5 mg/kg/day to 2 mg/kg/day (usually at 0.5 to 1 mg/kg/day, given as a single dose with food). Usually a course will last 8–10 months. A second course may be required. Efficacy appears to be related to the cumulative dose of isotretinoin taken, with a total cumulative dose over each course of 120–150 mg/kg used as a guideline.
Nearly all patients achieve initial clearing of acne during a normal course of isotretinoin therapy. 90% of patients achieve excellent clearance of their acne after a cumulative dose of 150 mg/kg.
Lower-dosage treatments, such as 10–20 mg/day (approximately half the high dosage treatments above), can also be effective, with greatly diminished side effects. However, such lower dosage courses may be associated with higher relapse rates, requiring additional courses, especially if not taken for sufficient time.
Usually, a starting dose of 20 mg is taken with the largest meal of the day. After a few months, the dose is increased, e.g., to 40 mg/d. If side-effects permit, a higher dose such as 60 mg/d can be prescribed although daily dose rarely exceeds 60 mg. If 20 mg capsules are supplied, patients may take (for example) 20 mg one day, then 40 mg the next to provide an average daily dose of 30 mg/d. In most cases, isotretinoin achieves a complete clearing of acne during a standard-dose 12–16 week course. Some patients' acne will respond to a course before recurring, necessitating multiple courses of treatment.
- Product Code: Isotretinoin
- Availability: In Stock
- Ex Tax: $165.00