Low dose acne treatment now on PBS

Oratane® (isotretinoin) 5mg is now available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for people with severe cystic acne.

Isotretinoin is the most effective treatment for severe acne. It works by unblocking and preventing further blockage of pores, reducing sebum (oil) production and soothing the redness and inflammation of acne. It makes the oil gland less friendly to the bacteria that contribute to acne.

Melbourne dermatologist and All About Acne member, Dr Mei Tam said the lower the dose, the lesser side effects.

“This is a good option for various people including those who are very concerned about side effects and adults who are extremely sensitive to dryness,” said Dr Tam.

“Acne can also affect infants producing infantile cystic acne. A lower dose of isotretinoin is required due to their lighter weight.”

While lesser side effects is a benefit, it is important to remember that a lower dose means the medication may take longer to achieve results so people will need to be patient.

Dr Tam added that a small percentage of patients may not fully clear with a course of isotretinoin and may require low dose as maintenance therapy.

Isotretinoin is available in a range of doses from 5-40mg providing dermatologists with the flexibility to tailor the treatment to the needs of the individual. All dosages are now available on the PBS.

The 5mg dose of isotretinoin is only available as Oratane and was listed on the PBS on 1 July 2019. Prior to this the cost was $43 per box.

Isotretinoin is an effective and strong medication for severe acne. Access is typically limited to dermatologists who will conduct tests and provide more information on this medication for the individual to decide if they would like to progress with this treatment.

Dermatologist - MBBS, FACD Dr Tam works as a consultant dermatologist at St. Vincent’s Hospital and the Skin Health Institute (previously known as the Skin and Cancer Foundation Inc). She also runs a private general dermatology practice in Melbourne. Dr Tam has collaborated in a prospective clinical trial looking at acne, isotretinoin with quality of life and depression, which was published in the Australasian Journal of Dermatology (Nov 2002). She runs a patch test contact dermatitis clinic at Skin Health Institute and has a keen interest in this field and clinical dermatology. Dr Tam has been a Fellow of the Australasian College of Dermatologists since 1998.

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