New safety measures for Isotretinoin. Treatments for severe acne

severe acne

A detailed review carried out by health experts into the safety of isotretinoin, has led to several recommendations being made. More detailed guidance from the Commission on Human Medicines will follow to make sure that the powerful acne drug is used safely.

While isotretinoin is highly effective at treating severe acne, there have been some worries about its side effects. These include mental health and sexual side effects, which may persist even after the medication has been stopped.

Here, we look at the outcome of the review of isotretinoin prescribing, and consider what safer alternatives to isotretinoin for acne treatment are in development

Isotretinoin for severe acne

Isotretinoin, also known as Roaccutane or Accutane , is a commonly prescribed powerful drug used to manage severe acne, particularly when there’s a possibility of lasting scars. Taken in capsule form, the effects typically kick in around a week to ten days after beginning the treatment. It’s worth noting that it can make the skin slightly worse before it begins to show signs of improvement.

Before starting isotretinoin treatment, you’ll need to undergo a blood test. This is done to ensure your body is compatible with the drug. Regular blood tests will also need to be carried out during treatment. This is a precautionary measure to monitor for any side effects that may arise.

Recommendations for safer use of isotretinoin

In response to concerns from patients received via the yellow card scheme, the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) set up an Isotretinoin Expert Working Group. The goal was to focus on the safety of the drug. The review concluded that it’s still unclear if isotretinoin is the definitive cause of the short-term or long-term psychiatric and sexual side effects that have been reported.

Following the review, the CHM has put forward recommendations to increase the safety of the drug. These include:

  • Providing more information about the drug to patients and their families
  • Consistent monitoring of a patient’s mental and sexual health
  • Stricter initial prescribing rules for young people
  • Improved risk communication before consultation with a specialist
  • Encouragement for further research into the drug’s risks

These recommendations aim to empower patients with knowledge, while making the treatment safer, especially for younger people.

Could antimicrobial fat cell treatment be a safer alternative?

Isotretinoin’s efficacy is undeniable, but its side effects can pose considerable challenges. Fortunately, the field of acne treatment is witnessing promising developments, one of which is the innovative antimicrobial fat cell treatment.

Studies show that skin cells that grow outside the hair follicle have the ability to morph into antimicrobial fat cells, known to combat acne. This discovery not only gives us a deeper understanding of our skin’s inherent defences, but also opens new possibilities for acne treatment. Further research is needed to explore whether harnessing the body’s natural defences in this way may be used to manage this persistent skin condition.

At present, isotretinoin continues to show superior efficacy to any other acne treatment, and it will be fascinating to see if safer acne treatments emerge. Dr Juliet Williams follows current guidance around safe prescribing of isotretinoin and will be updating her practice in line with the detailed guidance when it is published. Book a consultation with Dr Juliet Williams today to discover the best treatment to suit you. After establishing the type of acne that you have, she can provide guidance on the most suitable treatment plan.

The range of treatment options includes topical solutions like creams and gels, both topical and oral antibiotics, as well as oral isotretinoin.