I was reading The Times today, during one of our coffee breaks, and stumbled upon an article titled "Call for ban on acne drug linked to suicide." (online version). I took drugs for my spots, so this caught my attention. A little bit into the story, I discovered that the drug they are talking about is Roaccutane; the exact same stuff I took for my chorbs.
This stuff has a list of side effects as long as your arm (see link above), including listing changes in moods and and a chance of increased levels of depression and maybe even suicide. However, there is one thing that can't be denied - it's only ever used as a last resort, under supervision, and it's a last resort that works well, very well.
According to the article, it been around for yonks (20+ years) and has been used to treat acne in more than 13 million people world wide. In that time, the WHO have only received 720 reports of psychiatric problems, including 100 suicides or attempted suicides.
Yes, the side effects are bad, but people are warned in writing (packaging insert) and by their dermatologist and it is only used as a last resort. However, it's a shame that a few people screaming about their side effects is causing such bad press on a good product. Nobody is screaming for Prozac or any other anti-depressant, that actually hasn't done what it says on the tin and has caused a much higher rate of suicide and depression, to be banned; and what about alcohol? More people commit suicide after consuming alcohol than any other substance, but nobody would ever consider banning that.
Come on people... one the one hand you want cures for everything, but on the other you are not prepared to take the risks associated with these cures and want it all to be 100% safe. Come on, we live in the real world, not some cotton wool lined sphere.
That reminds me, I really must put together my list of "well duh" warnings sometime.