Accutane, a popular acne drug, has been causally linked to depression and suicide among its users. Accutane use has been linked to drastic mood swings, depression and thoughts of suicide. A study shows that an Accutane user is 1.5 times more likely to commit suicide than a non-user. This Accutane side effect received national attention when Congressman Bart Stupak’s son committed suicide after taking Accutane.

Accutane and Suicides

The first attempted suicide by an Accutane user took place within a year of Accutane hitting the market. The first alleged suicide linked to Accutane use occurred in 1984. It was not until 1986 that Hoffman-LaRoche, Accutane’s manufacturer, acknowledged that their drug may have a strong psychological side effect. There have been more than 200 reports of suicides by Accutane users and over a thousand other reports of psychological complications.

How does Accutane cause Depression and Suicide?

Scientists state that Accutane reduces the level of serotonin in a user’s brain. Serotonin is a hormone that relays messages between the neurons in the brain. Changes in the serotonin levels can lead to sudden mood changes and low serotonin levels have been linked to depression and suicide. Researchers believe that there is a direct link between Accutane use to depression and suicide.

Link between Accutane Use and Depression

The FDA established a link between Accutane and the side effect of depression and suicide by using the rechallenge test. They observed a joyful person who took Accutane and then experienced depression and thoughts of suicide. When the user stopped taking Accutane, his thoughts of suicide subsided. The user was then replaced on Accutane and resumed suffering from depression and thoughts of suicide.

Warnings of Depression and Suicide

Although there was strong evidence that Accutane was linked to depression and suicide, Hoffman-LaRoche and the FDA did not originally issue any depression and suicide warning label for Accutane. In 1997, French authorities required Hoffman-LaRoche to warn Accutane users of the risk of depression and suicide on its label. It was not until 1998 that the FDA required Hoffman-LaRoche to place a bold faced warning on the box, warning users of these side effects. Now, the FDA also requires doctors to have patients sign a consent form stating they understand the risk of depression and suicide. Pharmacist must also distribute a detailed warning brochure detailing the psychological complications linked to Accutane use.   

Suffering from Depression or Thoughts of Suicide?

If you have been suffering from any psychological complications, including depression or thoughts of suicide, due to Accutane use, please contact us today.  

Published November 17, 2011 by