Also Known As: Accutane, Isotretinoin, Roaccutane, Amnesteem, Claravis, Sotret
Isotretinoin, INN, is a medication used mostly for cystic acne. It was first developed for brain, pancreatic and other cancers. It is used to treat harlequin-type ichthyosis, a usually lethal skin disease, and lamellar ichthyosis. Its effects are systemic and nonselective. It is a retinoid, meaning it is related to vitamin A, and is found in small quantities naturally in the body.
Isotretinoin's best-known and most dangerous side effect is birth defects. This is because of the molecule's close resemblance to retinoic acid, a natural vitamin A derivative which controls normal embryonic development. Because of this, it is one of the most difficult pharmaceuticals to obtain in the United States.