Give Me Accutane or Give Me Death: The Politics of Prescriptions

Any teenager will tell you that acne can drive you crazy, but is it dismal enough to drive you to kill yourself? Since its market debut in 1982, enraged parents and lawyers have implicated Accutane in the hospitalizations and suicide deaths of over 200 teenagers in the US.

Accutane (isotretinoin) is one of Hoffman-LaRoche’s most popular and controversial pharmaceuticals. Doctors prescribe Accutane for patients with severe nodular acne that does not respond to systemic treatments with antibiotics.

Michigan Democrat Representative Bart Stupak lost his son, BJ, to suicide in May of 2000 while the teenager was using Accutane. Since then, Congressman Stupak has led a crusade for further research to establish Accutane’s risks of birth defects and psychiatric disorders like depression and suicide.

While the safety of isotretinoin is hotly contested, there are previous Accutane users such as 21 year-old Krista Savino who view the drug as a Godsend. The … Read More