Concerns United Kingdom suicides are connected to acne drug used in New Zealand

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Earlier this year, Channel 4 spoke to the parents of 15-year-old Annabel Wright, who blamed the drug for her death.

“We were told to look out for low mood and depression and because of Annabel’s upbeat and sunny nature, we were sure we would have spotted the signs if her mood had taken a turn for the worst and it never did,” mother Helen Wright said.

“We were never told that these random suicide impulses can come out of the blue and be overwhelming.”

There’s never been any conclusive evidence that the drug is linked to suicide.

According to Ministry of Health data, more than 17,000 Kiwis were prescribed isotretinoin last year. The acne medicine is currently available here under the brand names Oratane and Isotane. 

Oratane manufacturer, Douglas Pharmaceuticals, told Newshub in a statement: “Although a relationship between isotretinoin and mental illness has not been established, care needs to be taken in patients with a history of depression and all patients should be monitored.”

“For the majority of patients with severe acne the benefits of effective treatment with isotretinoin outweigh any potential adverse side effects.”

Medsafe says it will watch the UK review with interest.  

Anyone with concerns should contact their GP, and any problems should be reported to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring.

Where to find help and support: 

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