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Drug alert of the month

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Beware of isotretinoin, the common retinoid drug used to treat severe acne

Beware of isotretinoin, the common retinoid drug used to treat severe acne. More case reports have emerged showing that the drug can cause Guillain-Barr'e (GB) paralysis.

The UK Committee on Safety of Medicines has received reports of adults and teenagers developing the paralysing syndrome after using the drug. In one case, a 31-year-old man who'd used 80 mg/day of oral isotretinoin for five weeks is unable to do much besides blink; in another instance, a 13-year-old boy given 50 mg/day, then 30 mg/day, for three months must now be kept on a ventilator.

The incidence of GB syndrome with isotretinoin is one in every 50,000 patients (BMJ, 2004; 328: 1537).


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