Study Says Not Enough Is Being Done to Prevent Birth Defects Among Women Who Take Acne Drug

The drug isotretinoin, known by the brand name Accutane, is prescribed for people with severe acne. But tests have shown that women who take the drug while pregnant are more likely to have infants with birth defects. As a result, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires women who take the drug to review an educational booklet, use two forms of contraception, and take regular pregnancy tests.

But a study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine finds that efforts to inform women about the risks of taking the drug while pregnant have been effective but that women who take the drug were found to have not been well informed about preventing unwanted pregnancy.

schwarzEleanor Bimla Schwarz, director of the women’s health services research unit at the Center for Research on Health Care at the University of Pittsburgh and co-author of the study, states, “Unfortunately, our medical community has a long tradition of telling women not to get pregnant without equipping them with the tools they need to avoid pregnancy. The findings from our qualitative study indicate that dermatologists and other health care professionals need to ensure they are providing comprehensive education and access to contraceptives that will fully protect women from unintended pregnancies while taking this medication.”

Dr. Schwarz holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. She received her medical training at the University of California at San Francisco.

The article, “Women’s Experiences With Isotretinoin Risk Reduction Counseling,” was published on the website of JAMA Dermatology. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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