What Is Accutane?
Now marketed under the name Roaccutane, Accutane is a common brand name of isotretinoin, a retinoid class drug that is similar to vitamin A. The medication works by increasing the production of neutrophil-gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL), which in turn reduces the size of the sebaceous glands and decreases the amount of sebum that is produced. Sebum is the oily substance that protects the skin and hair from becoming overly dry. This substance is also responsible for causing acne.
Because of the serious side effects of Accutane, especially the risk of birth defects, isotretinoin medications are only available by prescription. Signatures, pregnancy tests, and other requirements must be met in most countries before a patient can receive an isotretinoin prescription. It is most often prescribed to individuals with severe nodular acne that won’t respond to other medications. In some cases, Accutane is also an effective treatment for severe acne rosacea, a rare tissue disease called fibrodysplasia ossificans progressive, and neuroblastoma (nerve cancer).