Women taking Accutane still getting pregnant despite iPledge

Filed under: Your Pregnancy, Health & Safety: Babies

Accutane is a powerful prescription medication used to treat severe acne. Besides clearing your skin, it can also cause profound birth defects when taken by pregnant women. Even small doses taken for short periods can result in damage to an unborn child, including severe brain damage, heart defects and mental retardation. Even after stopping the drug, the risk remains for thirty days.

In an effort to prevent women from becoming pregnant while taking Accutane, a program called iPledge was created. It was intended to eliminate the risk through mandatory education, counseling and most importantly, by requiring female patients to commit to using two forms of contraception and to submit to monthly pregnancy tests. In theory, prescriptions will not be filled without proof of a negative result on the pregnancy test.

New figures released from the iPledge registry reveal that despite these precautions, women continue to get pregnant while taking the drug. The numbers show that there were 122 pregnancies during the first year of the program. Of those pregnancies, 78 were actually taking the drug at the time they became pregnant. Another 10 were already pregnant when they first began taking the drug - including two who deliberately had their pregnancy tests falsified. Eight more women became pregnant within a month after stopping the drug.

Most of pregnancies are blamed on the old standby - forgetting to take birth control, although 18% had been relying on abstinence. I don't get that. I thought it was impossible to get pregnant if you didn't have sex?

Even with the obvious failure of the iPledge program, manufacturers of the drug are pushing the FDA to make it easier to get a prescription for those who aren't at risk of becoming pregnant. Until they resolve these issues, I don't think making this drug easier to obtain is a good idea.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.