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Int J Dermatol. 2018 Sep;57(9):1035-1046. doi: 10.1111/ijd.13950. Epub 2018 Mar 6.

A comparative review of the isotretinoin pregnancy risk management programs across four continents.

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The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.


Isotretinoin has revolutionized the treatment of severe acne vulgaris, a condition which if left untreated may result in significant socio-psychological implications for those affected. Timely access to isotretinoin therapy is important to avoid the risks of potential physical and emotional scarring. However, due to its high risks of teratogenicity, isotretinoin must be used with care in females of childbearing potential. Since isotretinoin's introduction, numerous risk management programs have been implemented across the world in an attempt to prevent isotretinoin use in pregnancy. This paper aims to provide an evidence-based review of the risk management programs for isotretinoin in Australia, Europe, Singapore, New Zealand, and the United States of America. The effectiveness of these programs and the factors leading to isotretinoin exposure in pregnancy are critically analyzed in an effort to inform the future direction with respect to designing the ideal regulatory program. Stringent risk management programs, such as the iPLEDGE in the US and Pregnancy Prevention Program (PPP) in Europe, may not be effective in reducing the risks of fetal exposure to isotretinoin when used alone. There is evidence that such strenuous regulation results in increased fear of teratogenic risks but does not translate into a reduced rate of pregnancies exposed to isotretinoin. A successful program must prioritize education about effective contraception, while minimizing any extraneous requirements, to ensure that women are not inadvertently undertreated for acne.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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