Tuesday, 29 April 2014

A small victory for families who have campaigned since tragic suicides linked to Roaccutane.

A small victory for families who have campaigned since tragic suicides linked to Roaccutane

The article in Mail on Line states there will be a review of Roaccutane (isotretinoin) by the Commission on Human Medicines. 

We have tried for years to persuade a Professor of pharmacogenetics to do a study to find a genetic test and discover why a drug, so popular with those it has helped with acne problems, yet has a devastating adverse effects for those it harms and for their families.

We even went so far, with the help of the Medland family who are featured in the article, as to have a meeting in Liverpool with dermatologists, the professor and others about how to go about this study.

We found family members where one had a severe adverse reaction and the other did not. In the case of twins, one rushed to hospital in a life threatening condition and the other not after taking Roaccutane.

The drug is derived from vitamin A which is a linked to severe psychiatric and other reactions in high doses. The fact that some people may be slow metabolisers and therefore may have toxic levels of Roaccuane due to the drug not dispersing quickly, seems to be seldom considered.

Please read the article and take into account that in the case of Jon Medland, his problem was not a severe case of acne and he was not really a person who should have been prescribed the drug. He was however a medical student at the time and therefore slipped through the net.

Others who have been prescribed were also not classic severe cases where many other treatments had failed. In some dermatology clinics, there is careful monitoring. In some cases no monitoring of the patient's mood. 

I was at an  inquest where the dermatologist not only shrugged off his responsibility and even prescribed Dianette to a depressed girl who was deeply concerned about the harm Roaccutane was doing by seriously drying up her skin. 

I asked him why he prescribed Dianette and he responded " I couldn't risk her getting pregnant on Roaccutane" (the drug is known to cause deformity in foetus). I said to him " but Dianette is not licensed as a contraceptive" to which he did not respond. This man runs a private practice in Harley Street and did not know Dianette is linked to depression and not licensed for contraception due to higher risk of blood clots than other drugs for this purpose. It is licensed for acne. 
The poor girl who died was also prescribed by other doctors = Prozac and Zopiclone...a potent cocktail for a deeply depressed vulnerable girl - her name was Angela Lee and the coroner just brushed asside the cocktail of drugs in the jury inquest I attended.

I personally know a young man who was an A grade student, he dropped out and later told me he thought Roaccutane had caused his depression. Sadly his family shunned his concerns and considered him a failure. Tragic and it still upsets me to think he understood the cause of his problems and yet got no support from his family. He is not the only person in this situation and many others have written to me with similar stories.

I just want to say how strongly I support the Medland family and all those family members who do not give up in their efforts to save other lives. We do understand why some families shut themselves away in their grief but if we all did that there would be no changes in patient safety issues. 

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