Accutane has been scrutinized by the Food and Drug Administration for its side effects of damage and inflammation to the gastrointestinal tract both during and after use of the drug. Some patients have first noticed or suffered negative health affects long after their Accutane use has stopped. Symptoms of gastrointestinal damage associated with use of the medication may include:
Stomach or bowel pain
Swallowing difficulty or pain
Darkening of urine
There are several gastrointestinal ailments directly linked to use of Accutane. These illnesses have been experienced in greater numbers by patients using the prescription for their acne than typically seen in those not using the drug. The diagnoses include:
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is noted within Accutane’s medication guide as being associated with use of the prescription, even in users who had no prior medical history of IBD or other intestinal problems. There are two types of IBD, both of which are presently incurable:
Chron’s disease affects the lining of the digestive tract by causing inflammation and symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, vomiting and weight loss. Although there is no known cure for Chron’s disease, it can be treated. Left untreated, Chron’s disease can be fatal through malnutrition.
Causing chronic inflammation of the digestive tract and ulcers on internal organs such as the intestines and rectal lining, UC is also evidenced by abdominal pain and diarrhea. It is treatable, but incurable at the present time.
Acute Pancreatitis (AP), a potentially fatal pancreatic inflammatory disease, has also been linked to use of Accutane through studies. AP can appear suddenly through symptoms such as severe stomach pain, vomiting, nausea, fever and a rapid pulse. Upon first diagnosis, hospitalization is generally necessary because life-threatening problems such as internal bleeding, permanent damage to tissues, kidney failure and serious infections may develop.
The esophagus is vulnerable to side effects possibly caused by use of Accutane, such as dangerous inflammation inflicting painful and difficult swallowing, as well as chest pain.
There have been approximately 5,000 personal injury claims against Hoffman-La Roche, Inc. surrounding these health conditions and the varied levels of severity experienced by Accutane patients, ranging from increased frequency of abdominal pain to colon removal and other major, life-altering surgeries.
Lawsuits brought by former Accutane patients against Roche have resulted in financial compensation in many cases. For example, an Alabama man was awarded $2.6 million in May 2007 for his chronic diarrhea and subsequent surgeries derived from prescribed use of the drug. A New Jersey woman was awarded $10.5 million for her case, due to the connection between Accutane use and her development of ulcerative colitis at the age of 14, which later resulted in surgical removal of her colon and subsequent chronic, severe diarrhea.