CAMPAIGNERS want the NHS to stop prescribing a common acne drug amid claims it leaves some users impotent and suicidal.
Around 30,000 people a year take Roaccutane in the UK, with makers Roche saying millions have benefited worldwide.
Getty Images – Getty Campaigners are calling for the drug Roaccutane to be banned, amid claims it leaves some users suicidal and impotent
‘It left me impotent’
But young men claim it has left them unable to have sex and parents believe it led their children to take their own lives.
Ed Henthorn says it caused him erectile dysfunction, psychosis and suicidal thoughts when he started taking it at 19.
He still suffers five years after his last dose.
Ed said: “I used to think about girls… but my feelings, thoughts, just faded away.
“That was why I decided to stop taking it. The drug’s just turned my life upside down.”
Warnings about depression and other psychiatric side-effects were added to the drug’s patient information leaflet in 1998.
A new warning was added two years ago to say some people may struggle to maintain an erection and suffer lower libido.
The family of Jesse Jones claim he took his own life in 2011 aged 24 after Roaccutane hit his sex drive and left him needing Viagra.
The coroner at his inquest recorded a narrative verdict and his use of the acne drug was not considered as a contributing factor.
But Jesse had drafted an email saying: “Roaccutane seems to have changed the way my mind and body works in a big way.
“I can barely bring myself to type its name because I hate it so much.”
His dad Derek Jones said the drug is too dangerous to prescribe on the NHS.
He added: “A minority get these terrible, terrible side-effects that affect them for the rest of their lives.
“Should we just ignore this minority group? I think the risks are just too high.”
Long-term side effects
Prof David Healy, from Bangor University, said it was concerning that the drug caused such serious problems and for so long.
He added: “It’s very, very, important the label makes it clear that these problems can be enduring.”
The NHS says Roaccutane is only recommended for severe cases of acne that have not responded to other treatments.
They acknowledge there have been reports of mood changes while taking the drug but say there is no evidence they were caused by it.
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Sarah Perkins, who makes YouTube videos about coping with acne, described Roaccutane as a “wonder drug”.
She said: “I feel so much happier. I’m confident in my own skin.”
Roche said Roaccutane is a prescription-only medication that should be used under the care and supervision of a doctor.
The firm said the majority of users have positive experiences and research had not established clear links between the drug and psychiatric disorders or sexual dysfunction.