‘It nearly cost me my life’: Woman, 24, hospitalised with pancreatitis warns about risks of taking controversial acne drug Roaccutane

  • Charlotte Carpenter felt agonising pain and was struggling to breathe 
  • Had been taking drug for severe acne for just two months 
  • Pancreatitis is a known but rare side effect of Roaccutane, says manufacturer
  • Drug also linked to depression and psychotic disorder 
  • Parents who blame the drug on the suicides of their children have called for ban 

A woman who had a brush with death after taking Roaccutane for just two months is warning others about the risks of the controversial anti-acne drug.

Charlotte Carpenter, 24, suffered horrendous pain in her side and difficulty breathing and was rushed to A&E with life-threatening pancreatitis.

She was shocked to be told the condition – where the pancreas becomes inflamed and can cause complications, such as multiple organ failure – was a side effect of the medication she’d taken for her skin problems.

Now the hospital administrator – who had been plagued by severe acne since the age of 12 – is speaking out to tell acne sufferers that ‘the benefits do not outweigh the risks’.

Pancreatitis is just one of a host of possible serious side effects associated with Roaccutane, which has been linked to at least 20 suicides in Britain since 2012.

Yet worryingly, prescriptions of the drug – which can cause debilitating depression, psychotic disorder and bowel disease – have increased more than sixfold in the last decade.

Anxiety: Charlotte's severe acne plagued her throughout her teens and 20s

Anxiety: Charlotte’s severe acne plagued her throughout her teens and 20s

Charlotte, from Burton-on-Trent, was prescribed Roaccutane last August after all other medication had failed to work.

She said: ‘I had horrendous pain in my side. I was doubled over and barely able to breathe. It was terrifying – I felt like I was dying.

‘Roaccutane did work wonders for my skin. But it nearly cost me my life – it’s a high price to pay for clear skin.

The drug contain the active ingredient isotretinoin, which is a vitamin A derivative

The drug contain the active ingredient isotretinoin, which is a vitamin A derivative

‘I understand how desperate youngsters can become when acne is destroying their confidence, but I want to speak out and make people aware of the dangers of this so-called wonder drug.’

Charlotte’s acne was so bad that at one stage, she woke up with blood all over her pillow from burst pustules.

At 18 and extremely self-conscious, she was referred to a dermatologist. But none of the antibiotics or creams she tried over the years had any affect.

Having such bad skin throughout her teens and 20s made Charlotte so anxious she was eventually prescribed anti-depressants by her GP.

The 24-year-old used to wear heavy make-up in an attempt to hide her bad skin

The 24-year-old used to wear heavy make-up in an attempt to hide her bad skin

She said: ‘I felt like I was in never-ending spiral downwards and I just didn’t know where or when it was ever going to end.

‘It made me feel like a freak and I started to become very antisocial and depressed.’

Charlotte’s dermatologist suggested Roaccutane – and she says she was warned about the potential side effects but was so desperate for a solution she agreed to try it.

She never imagined that, after two months of taking it, she would end up in a hospital bed hooked up to tubes and drips – but she is thankful she’s alive.

Charlotte says her life is changed now she uses Sebopure

The hospital worker feels a lot more confident

Charlotte found a cure for her acne with Sebopure

The Reeves in Essex have not been as lucky. Just last week, the heartbroken parents of 21-year-old Luke Reeves spoke out to claim their popular son killed himself after Roaccutane changed his personality.

In 2015 the UK drugs regulator the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency showed 20 people died while taking Roaccutane between 2012 and 2014.

Critics are concerned doctors are giving it out ‘like sweets’ without due consideration for its possible devastating effects.

Figures show prescriptions of the drug, known as isotretinoin, have increased from 6,522 in 2006 to 48,997 in 2016.

The label warning with Roaccutane says ‘very common’ reactions include anaemia and conjunctivitis, while ‘common’ side effects include headache.

Depression is classed as a ‘rare’ side effect and suicidal ideation, psychotic disorder, pancreatitis, arthritis, diabetes mellitus and hepatitis are all classed as ‘very rare’.


Luke underwent a four month course of Roaccutane

Luke underwent a four month course of Roaccutane

The devastated parents of Luke Reeves claim their son killed himself after Roaccutane changed his personality.

They said the ‘handsome and popular’ 21-year-old became irrational, lethargic and finally suicidal because of the drug’s effects.

His father Robert Reeves said: ‘In the medical profession there is no proven link. Luke took the drug at 16 and died when he was 21. They don’t connect it.

‘It is only when you learn how prevalent these stories are, it becomes apparent.’

Dr. Rav Seeruthun, medical director at Roche, said the information provided with the drug carries a warning that some patients may experience mood changes, including an increase in depression.

He pointed to a study published in the BMJ in 2010 that did not establish a link between isotretinoin and an observed increased risk of suicide.

Additionally, he says, the MHRA concluded in December 2014 that while a causal link cannot be ruled out, it was not possible to identify a clear increase in risk of psychiatric disorders in people who take isotretinoin.

The drug leaflet warns patients to speak to their doctors if they do feel depressed.

A spokesperson for Roche said: ‘We are sorry to hear that a patient has been unwell during treatment with a Roche medicine.

‘We ensure healthcare professionals and patients have up to date information on Roche medicines.

‘In this instance, Roche cannot comment on how clinicians prescribed Roaccutane, but we do recommend our medicines are prescribed carefully, that patients are monitored and that patients understand what to look out for when taking a medicine.

‘We advise patients and healthcare professionals to follow the advice provided in patient leaflets and prescribing information.

‘We always stress the importance of reporting adverse events. Report it to us directly or to the MHRA via its yellow card system.

‘This helps us update the Summary of Product Characteristics and Patient Information Leaflet to reflect the most up-to-date safety data so that all parties can make informed decisions.’

Roche provided a link here for patients to find out more about the drug’s safety.


After she stopped taking Roaccutane, Charlotte’s skin ‘erupted like a volcano’ and she was left once again desperate to find a treatment for her severe acne.

Then Charlotte’s mum read an article about a new treatment called Sebopure and decided to give it a go.

Acne is predominantly caused by an excess of sebum (oily skin) which attracts dirt, resulting in bacterial build-up that leads to break outs.

Sebopure contains a natural plant active derived from Wild Mustard Leaf Oil called Pixalia, which works by decreasing the amount of sebum produced while keeping skin clean and preventing bacterial build-up.

‘After two months of use my skin is virtually clear. I’m on no medications and my skin is as close to perfect as I could wish for.

‘I can happily walk around in public now without make up.

‘My confidence has gone through the roof.’

Sebopure costs £12.96 and is available from the Clarol website.

Link original: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4492688/Woman-pancreatitis-warns-risks-acne-drug.html?ITO=applenews


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