Accutane (the most-recognized brand name of the generic medication ‘isotretinoin’) is an excellent medication that is useful for treating severe, recalcitrant acne in both women and men. Although most patients take Accutane without any serious side effects, the iPledge program exists to educate patients as to what side effects they may experience while taking Accutane (and to monitor for these side effects) and to prevent women from conceiving while taking Accutane.
Dr. Schweiger explains that, “Many women of childbearing age take Accutane for their severe acne. However, since Accutane is a known teratogen, meaning that it causes birth defects, it is imperative that women do not conceive while taking Accutane. For this reason, the iPledge program requires that women of childbearing potential use two forms of birth control while taking the medication.” During the course of Accutane, you will return to the office each month to discuss any side effects and to review labwork (including a pregnancy test) that is performed each month. Since medications take time to leave your system after you stop taking them, it is important that female patients have a final pregnancy test one month after completing Accutane, to confirm that they have not conceived. One month after completing the Accutane treatment, female patients may discontinue the two forms of birth control and attempt to conceive, if they wish.
Accutane is an oral form of Vitamin A that treats acne by addressing a variety of the acne-causing factors, including decreasing sebum production, killing p. acnes bacteria, and increasing skin cell turnover to clean out clogged pores.