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Angela Palmer

Does Isotretinoin Cause Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

By April 10, 2010

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With a new study citing a link between isotretinoin use and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and a recent lawsuit award of $25 million to a patient who developed IBD after using Accutane, it seems only natural that isotretinoin users would be a bit nervous.

If you take isotretinoin, are you at risk for developing IBD?

A new study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology shows a link between ulcerative colitis (a form of IBD) and isotretinoin use. Even according to this study, though, the absolute risk of developing ulcerative colitis was very small and previous studies have found IBD is no more common among isotretinoin users than among non-users.

So, if you are using, or have used, isotreinoin (like Sotret, Amnesteem, Claravis, Accutane, etc.) what should you do? First, there is no reason to panic.

Treat this information as you have the knowledge of other side effects of this medication -- know the risks and warning signs, and weigh the possible side effects against the benefits. Be proactive and talk to your doctor about all your questions or concerns, but don't let this news terrify you.


Bernstein CN, Nugent Z, Longobardi T, Blanchard JF. "Isotretinoin Is Not Associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Population-Based Case-Control Study." Am J Gastroenterol. 2009 Nov;104(11):2774-8.

Crockett SD, Porter CQ, Martin CF, Sandler RS, Kappelman MD. "Isotretinoin Use and the Risk of Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Case-Control Study." Am J Gastroenterol. 2010 Mar 30. [Epub ahead of print].

Using Isotretinoin Safely:

April 12, 2010 at 1:02 am
(1) david Ennis says:

Angela I am a lawyer who has been reviewing accutane side effect cases since 2003. The problem is the evidence that has been presented in court has not been disseminated to the general public. The evidence is very strong on what the manufacturer knew and never warned the public. Are you aware that accutane was sold as a chemotherapy drug in Europe before it was sold as acne medication in the U.S. in 1982? The problem is there should be black box warning on the drug. Patients should be made aware of the risks benefits of taking this drug. This drug should only be used in the most severe of acne cases. Too many people were prescribed the drug when they only had a mild case of acne. To learn more about accutane side effects and your legal rights you can go to http://www.the-accutane-lawyer.com.

April 13, 2010 at 3:38 pm
(2) Free Acne Newsletter says:

I would recommend that if you do take Accutane, despite all the side effects, that you discuss this possibility with your doctor and insist that you are monitored for IBD.

April 13, 2010 at 5:11 pm
(3) acne says:

I absolutely agree with you both. Taking isotretinoin is not a decision that should be made lightly, especially since we have so many effective acne drugs available. But for those with severe acne that does not respond to other treatments, isotretinoin is a viable option.

Still, this medication does come with a slew of possible side effects, over and above the increased risk of IBD. It’s important that anyone taking isotretinoin fully understand these side effects, and be carefully monitored by their doctor.

April 13, 2010 at 11:29 pm
(4) patient says:

I took accutane 2 years ago, it was one of the best decisions i have made in my life and has changed my lifestyle greatly. But, recently i have been diagnosed with ulceritive colitis and am curios if it has anything to do with the accutane. But either way, taking accutane and the wonders it did for me is worth the possibility that it caused the ulcertive colitis.

December 18, 2010 at 5:59 pm
(5) IHaveUC says:

You would never say you were thankful for Accutane if you truly experienced the hell that is Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

March 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm
(6) Pikavippi says:

The structure for the blog is a little bit off in Epiphany. Even So I like your weblog. I may have to use a “normal” browser just to enjoy it.

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