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Is Absorica the same as Accutane?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Oct 28, 2021.

Official answer

  • Absorica and Accutane both contain isotretinoin, a medicine used to treat very severe acne, but Absorica does not have to be taken with food and is more easily absorbed into your body. These medicines need to be properly absorbed into the body to effectively treat acne.
  • Absorica can be taken with or without meals, but Accutane must be taken with meals and not on an empty stomach. Failure to take Accutane with food will significantly decrease its absorption.
  • These products cannot be interchanged because of these different absorption qualities.

Accutane absorption

Studies show that Accutane (and most other forms of isotretinoin) are absorbed best when taken with a high fat meal twice a day. The manufacturer recommends that Accutane always be taken with meals and not an empty stomach. If you take Accutane on an empty stomach, the total amount that is absorbed and the peak level of the drug are both reduced by about half. You should swallow the Accutane capsules whole with a full glass of water.

A high fat meal usually has 50% of its calories from fat, which is higher than what is recommended in dietary guidelines. The 2020-2025 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that 15% or less of total daily calories come from fat. Eating too much saturated fat can raise your risk of weight gain, high cholesterol, and heart disease.

Absorbica absorption

The absorption of Absorica does not depend upon how much fat you eat, or if you eat all, when you take it. Absorica is taken twice a day with or without meals. This means you can take it with a lower fat meal or on an empty stomach if you prefer.

The manufacturer states that Absorica provides greater absorption when taken without a meal compared to generic forms of isotretinoin. You should swallow the Absorica capsules whole with a full glass of water.

How effective is Accutane compared to Absorica?

Absorica and isotretinoin (Accutane, others) both are similarly effective in treating severe acne.

  • In comparative studies, both products led to at least a 90% reduction in total nodular lesion count from baseline (the study start) to Week 20.
  • The percent of patients achieving a 90% reduction in lesion count in the group receiving Absorica was 70% (324/464) compared to a 75% (344/461) reduction in the oral isotretinoin capsule group.

Both Absorica and Accutane (isotretinoin) are approved to treat nodular acne that cannot be cleared up by any other acne treatments, including antibiotics. It is used in patients 12 years of age and older who are not pregnant.

What is the difference between Absorica and Accutane?

The main differences between Absorica and Accutane are:

  • How they are taken and absorbed. For best absorption, Accutane must be taken with a high fat meal, but Absorica can be taken with or without food.
  • Accutane is available as generic isotretinoin, but Absorica is not yet available generically. This means Absorica may be more expensive for you to buy or your insurance may not cover it. The generic form isotretinoin is also available in many other brand names.
  • Absorbica is not interchangeable with Accutane, generic versions of Accutane called isotretinoin, or Absorica LD unless approved by your doctor.
  • Absorica also comes as a special formulation called Absorica LD that contains micronized (very small) particles of isotretinoin. These small particles are absorbed even more easily. This means the doses of Absorica LD are lower than Absorbica. Their capsule strengths differ, too. Due to these differences, do not switch between Absorica and Absorica LD unless approved by your doctor.
  • Accutane (isotretinoin) was first approved by the FDA in 1982, and the Absorica brand was approved in 2012.

Absorica, Absorica LD and Accutane all contain the active ingredient isotretinoin. These products are only available from a certified pharmacy under a special safety program called iPLEDGE. Healthcare providers, pharmacies and patients must all be enrolled in the iPLEDGE program.

Absorica, Accutane and any form of isotretinoin can cause severe birth defects (deformed baby) or death of a baby, even after taking just one dose. Never use Absorica or Accutane if you are pregnant or may become pregnant. You must understand and agree to carry out all of the instructions in the iPLEDGE program.

If you get pregnant during treatment with Absorica, Absorica LD Accutane or any other isotretinoin product, stop taking it right away and call your healthcare provider.

Learn more about Absorica, Accutane and isotretinoin treatment, warnings and side effects by following the links below:

This is not all the information you need to know about Absorica or Accutane (isotretinoin) for safe and effective use and does not take the place of talking to your doctor about your treatment. Review the full product information and discuss this information and any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.


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