One year ago the FDA issued a statement about the potential for depression and suicide in teens taking the acne drug, Accutane. And now, reports say that the 15-year-old pilot who crashed his plane into a skyscraper was prescribed the drug. At this point, investigators don't know whether or not the teen, Charles J. Bishop, was actually taking Accutane at the time of his death. Blood tests should reveal if the drug was in his blood.
Accutane is very effective against severe acne, but has been wrought with controversy due to some devastating adverse effects. Doctors have known for years about the potential for birth defects in women who become pregnant while taking the drug. And near the end of 2001, more concern was raised about the potential for depression and even suicide.
In October 2000, the FDA said the drug had been associated with 44 suicides since 1983. The FDA also had reports of 110 US Accutane users hospitalized for depression and thoughts of suicide in the same period. Roche, the makers of Accutane, sent a letter to doctors three-and-a-half years ago, alerting them to a new prescribing warning that states - "Accutane may cause depression, psychosis, and rarely, suicide attempts."
While the relationship between Accutane and depression remains unproven, the FDA strengthened the label warning in 1998 to say Accutane may cause depression and psychosis, and in rare cases may cause thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts and suicide.