Isotretinoin was discovered by accident. In testing this compound on cancer patients, its manufacturer Hoffmann-La Roche noticed that it transformed patients’ skin. So in 1982 the Swiss pharmaceutical industry giant had it approved as an acne drug.
Some 150 side effects are attributed to this teratogenic drug, including psychosis and suicide. Roche removed it from certain markets when its patent expired, and today, isotretinoin is marketed as a generic drug.
Its usage is supposed to be limited to cases of severe acne, but its sales figures indicate that it is often prescribed to people who only have two or three pimples.