First things first, before starting treatment your doctor will talk to you about the proper use of this medication. You’ll also go over possible side effects of isotretinoin.
It’s important you understand all the risks involved before committing to treatment. Take this time to ask questions. If you’re unsure about something or don’t understand something, let your doctor know.
Read and Sign the Patient Information/Informed Consent
Your doctor will give you Patient Information/Informed Consent to review and sign. These documents are basically a review of what you and your doctor have talked about regarding isotretinoin use.
Read through the information. The goal of the Patient Information/Informed Consent is to ensure you fully understand how isotretinoin works, it’s side effects, and your responsibilities while taking this drug.
After reading, you’ll sign the documents. Again, if you’re not clear on something, don’t be afraid to ask before you sign.
Submit to Regular Pregnancy Testing
You must have two negative pregnancy tests before you receive your first month’s supply of isotretinoin. The first pregnancy test will be done before you’re accepted into the program; the second will be done just before you get your prescription.
You’ll also need a negative pregnancy test each month before getting your refill, and one last pregnancy test one month after stopping treatment.
But a home pregnancy test, or even one done at your doctor’s office, won’t do. Monthly pregnancy tests must be done by an iPledge approved lab. Your doctor will give you information on approved labs in your area.
Use Two Forms of Contraception at All Times
You must use two forms of contraception one month prior to receiving your medication, the entire time during treatment, and for one month after stopping treatment. Birth control forms must be used together, at the same time (i.e. condoms along with oral contraceptives).
Not all forms of birth control are approved by the iPledge program. Talk to your doctor about accepted forms of contraception. This appointment may be paid for by the program.
See Your Doctor Every Month
You’ll be seeing a lot of your doctor during your isotretinoin treatment. You’ll have an appointment every month to discuss your questions and concerns, fill him in on the side effects you’re experiencing, and take blood tests as needed.
Answer Questions in the iPledge System
Each month, before you pick up your medication, you’ll need to access the iPledge system via your computer. Once there, you will be asked random questions about the iPledge program. You will also confirm the two birth control methods you are using.
And no, you can’t skip this step. Your pharmacist can’t fill your prescription until you have completed all necessary steps.
Pick up Your Prescription within a 7-Day Window
Count Day 1 as the day of your pregnancy test. You will have to pick up your prescription within the next seven days.
If, for some reason, you can’t get your isotretinoin within this window, you will have to re-qualify to receive your medication. This means you will have to do another pregnancy test, and answer questions in the iPledge system again. Unless this is your first prescription, you can immediately begin the qualifying process.
If you miss the 7-day window to pick up your very first prescription, you will have to wait 19 days before you can start the qualification process again. You will be locked out of the system during this time, no exceptions. Neither your pharmacist, doctor, nor the iPledge call center can “unlock” you.