Isotretinoin treatment of acne does not increase risk of suicidal behavior, ideation

October 15, 2021

1 minute read

Source/Disclosures

Disclosures: Ugonabo does not report any relevant financial information. Please see the study for relevant financial information from all other authors.


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According to one study, people treated for acne with isotretinoin were less likely to be diagnosed with suicidal behavior than those in the general population.

“The association between isotretinoin and psychiatric disorders, including depression and suicidal behavior, is controversial,” Nkemjika Ugonabo, MD, MPH, of the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at New York University Grossman School of Medicine, and his colleagues wrote.

In the current retrospective cohort study, researchers assessed data from IBM MarketScan research databases for patients who were prescribed isotretinoin or antibiotics for acne between 2011 and 2017. The aim was to determine the proportion of these patients who reported psychiatric disorders and/or engaged in suicidal activities. behaviour.

The results of 72,555 patients aged 12 to 35 years were reported.

The results showed that individuals in the general population were 1.47 times more likely to be diagnosed with suicidal thoughts or to attempt suicide compared to patients with acne who were prescribed isotretinoin (P

The general population was also less likely than patients on isotretinoin to have a psychiatric diagnosis (OR=0.87; 95% CI, 0.84-0.89; P P

Other data showed that the prevalence of suicidal behavior in patients treated with isotretinoin was 0.22% in the year before treatment, 0.1% during treatment and 0.34% (P = 0.004) within one year of treatment.

One of the main limitations of the study was that people with public insurance were excluded, as were uninsured people. In addition, the results were based on precise medical coding.

“Compared to the general population, patients with acne who were prescribed isotretinoin were less likely to engage in suicidal behavior,” the researchers concluded. “Further exploration of the slight increase in suicidal behavior observed in patients with isotretinoin 1 year after treatment is warranted.”