Review does not support monthly lab testing for oral isotretinoin use for acne

December 02, 2015

Monthly laboratory testing for all patients who are using standard doses of the acne medication isotretinoin may not be needed, according to a study by Penn State Hershey’s Dr. Joslyn Kirby, published online today in JAMA Dermatology.

Isotretinoin has been associated with several adverse effects, including teratogenicity (causing birth defects) and hyperlipidemia. Prior studies have looked at the usefulness of laboratory monitoring during isotretinoin therapy.

Kirby and coauthors reviewed medical literature to estimate changes in laboratory tests during isotretinoin therapy.

The authors included 26 studies (1,574 patients) in their meta-analysis, which evaluated laboratory test results for lipid levels, hepatic (liver) function and complete blood cell counts.

Results suggest that while isotretinoin was associated with a change in the average value of some laboratory tests (white blood cell count and hepatic and lipid panels), the average change across a patient group did not meet the criteria for high-risk and the proportion of patients with laboratory abnormalities was low, the authors report.

“The findings of this study suggest that less frequent laboratory monitoring may be safe, with few missed high-risk laboratory changes, for many patents with acne who are receiving typical doses of isotretinoin. … A decrease in the frequency of laboratory monitoring for some patients could help to decrease health care spending and potential anxiety-provoking blood sampling,” the study concludes.

Source: JAMA

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Listen to an audio interview on the JAMA Dermatology website.

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Last Updated December 10, 2015