Australian women being treated
with isotretinoin for acne are urged to double up on contraception methods to
avoid any risk of pregnancy.
A recent Canadian study found that
despite the known risks to a foetus from isotretinoin (e.g. Roaccutane), 1659 pregnancies
were possibly exposed to the drug over a 15-year period.
More than 1,000 of those pregnancies
resulted in medically induced abortions and almost 300 terminated
spontaneously. Of 118 potentially isotretinoin-exposed births, 11 infants were
found to have congenital malformations.
The study found less than a third
of women were taking oral contraceptives despite the recommendation that two
reliable forms of contraception should be used during and at least one month
after treatment with isotretinoin.
Melbourne dermatologist and
spokesperson for All About Acne Dr Mei Tam said the findings were a timely
reminder for young women seeking treatment for severe acne.
“Isotretinoin is a very effective
treatment for severe acne however women need to be aware of their
responsibilities regarding its use.”
“The Canadian study showed
unacceptably high rates of unplanned pregnancies presumably because women were
not consistent in their use of contraception.”
“Unfortunately the consequences
of these unplanned pregnancies - including terminations and babies with birth
defects - are extremely serious.”
Reference: Henry, D et.al. (2016) Occurrence of
pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes during isotretinoin therapy. Journal of the Canadian Medical Association; 188