Accutane has been prescribed by doctors since the 1980s to relieve symptoms of chemotherapy and to treat severe acne. Since then, thousands of patients have reported serious, debilitating side effects due to Accutane treatment. Side effects noted by patients commonly include gastrointestinal disorders. The American Journal of Gastroenterology reported the connection in 2006, specifically noting the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Because the side effects of Accutane may have been prevented, many patients who have experienced side effects from the treatment have legal options for compensation and damages. So far, over 5,000 personal injury suits have been filed due to the link between Accutane and the development of IBD.
The Food and Drug Administration has repeatedly forced Hoffman-La Roche, the manufacturer of Accutane to change the information included on its labels because of the association of side effects. The most recent of these changes is due to IBD. Many patients report development and symptoms of IBD even after their Accutane treatment has ended. Several early symptoms may be brought on by IBD:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Pain in the joints
- Sudden weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Skin conditions
- Rectal bleeding
Anyone who takes Accutane and experiences any of these symptoms should immediately discontinue the use of Accutane and report the symptoms to their doctor. If a positive diagnosis is given from the doctor, it is beneficial to consult with an attorney.
What is IBD?
IBD is a group of other, more specific disorders that are characterized by inflammation of the intestines. This inflammation is long-lasting and can develop over and over again, even if it should appear to clear up. Symptoms, at first, may appear to be similar to those of the stomach flu. These symptoms include abdominal cramping, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, intestinal bleeding, and rectal bleeding.
Two diagnosable types of IBD exist. They are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Ulcerative colitis often causes ulcers and inflammation in the large intestine. In most cases, it begins in the rectum and works its way up the colon. Crohn’s disease usually affects the small intestine, but can occur in all portions of the digestive tract, including the mouth, stomach, and colon. Ulcers result from Crohn’s disease that may go away without treatment, but they often recur in the same or other spots over and over again.
After discovering initial symptoms it is necessary to visit a doctor for final diagnosis. The doctor will determine if it is IBD, and then, determine which type it is – Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. This is accomplished through examination of stool and observing the intestines with a colonoscope. A colonoscope is a long, flexible tube with a camera attached to the end. X-rays may also be required.
Treatment of IBD begins with a healthy, balanced diet. Exact details of the diet depend on the exact details of the symptoms. It may include cutting down on dairy and fiber. Proper sleep is required in combination with the proper diet. Plenty of rest is called for. Stress management is also a part of most IBD treatment as stress greatly aggravates any gastrointestinal disorders.
In most cases, treatment will involve more than a single doctor. Besides your family doctor, a specialist in gastrointestinal disorders (gastroenterologist) will be required. Severe cases will also require a surgeon.
Anti-inflammatory medications are prescribed to relieve the inflammation caused by IBD. Antibiotics may also be prescribed to prevent or treat infection of the ulcers. Depending on the severity, some treatments will require a trip to the hospital or doctor’s office. More powerful medications, called immunosuppressants, may also be necessary. If these treatments do not work, surgery will be needed.