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Brand & Generic Names


Basic Information

  • Habit forming? No
  • Prescription needed? Yes
  • Available as generic? No
  • Drug class: Antipsoriatic


  • Treats psoriasis in patients who don't respond well to standard or usual treatment.
  • Treats arthritic symptoms sometimes associated with psoriasis.
  • Treats ichthyosis.

Dosage & Usage Information

How to take:
Capsules--Swallow with liquid or food to lessen stomach irritation. If you can't swallow whole, open capsule and take with liquid or food.

When to take:
At the same time each day, according to instructions on prescription label.

If you forget a dose:
Take as soon as you remember up to 2 hours late. If more than 2 hours, wait for next scheduled dose (don't double this dose).

What drug does:
Mechanism of action on skin is unknown, but positive effects on the disease have been documented. It probably reduces the production of protein in the outer layers of skin. It is chemically related to Retin-A.
Also functions as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Time lapse before drug works:
2 to 6 hours for effects to begin.
Prolonged treatment, up to 2 to 4 weeks (sometimes with psoralens, ultraviolet light may be necessary to develop maximum benefit).

Don't take with:
Any other medicine without consulting your doctor or pharmacist.


None documented. If overdose is suspected, follow instructions below.


  • Dial 911 (emergency) or O (operator) for an ambulance or medical help. Then give first aid immediately.
  • See EMERGENCY Information.

Possible Adverse Reactions or Side Effects


    None expected.


  • Bone and joint pain, eye irritation on exposure to sunlight.
  • Dry skin and eyes, nosebleeds, hair loss.


    Muscle cramps, blurred vision, hearing loss, dark-colored urine, jaundice, unusual bleeding or bruising.


  • Itching, peeling skin; inflamed nails; nausea; vomiting; headache.
  • Confusion, depression, anxiety; erection difficulties in males.

Warnings & Precautions

Don't take if:
If you are pregnant or expect to get pregnant soon.

Before you start, consult your doctor:

  • If you have heart or blood vessel disease.
  • If you have immediate family members with heart or blood vessel disease.
  • If you have high plasma triglycerides.
  • If you are an alcoholic.
  • If you have diabetes mellitus.
  • If you have liver disease.

Over age 60:
Adverse reactions and side effects may be more frequent and severe than in younger persons. You may need smaller doses for shorter periods of time.

Risk to unborn child outweighs drug benefits. Don't use.

Drug passes into milk. Avoid drug or discontinue nursing until you finish medicine. Consult doctor for advice on maintaining milk supply.

Infants & children:
Don't use.

Prolonged use:

  • No problems expected, if used for no more than 4 months per treatment session.
  • Talk to your doctor about the need for follow-up medical examinations or laboratory studies to check blood lipids, liver function.

Skin & sunlight:
May cause increased sensitivity to sunlight. Avoid when possible.

Driving, piloting or hazardous work:
Don't drive or pilot aircraft until you learn how medicine affects you. Don't work around dangerous machinery. Don't climb ladders or work in high places. Danger increases if you drink alcohol or take medicine affecting alertness and reflexes.

Don't discontinue without consulting doctor. Dose may require gradual reduction if you have taken drug for a long time. Doses of other drugs may also require adjustment.


  • Courses of treatment are usually limited to 4 months, and repeating, if necessary, after a 4-month rest period.
  • Don't donate blood during treatment or for several years thereafter.
  • Likelihood of producing cancer is very low.
  • During early treatment, psoriasis may appear to worsen.
  • May cause changes in cholesterol levels in blood.
  • May cause calcium deposits in tendons and ligaments.

Possible Interaction with Other Drugs

------------------------ -----------------------
Abrasive soaps or Excessive drying
cleaners effect on skin.
Acne preparations* Excessive drying effect on skin.
Any topical Excessive drying
preparation effect on skin.
Isoniazid Increased risk of liver damage.
Isoretinoin Increased toxicity.
Medicated cosmetics Excessive drying effect on skin.
Methotrexate Increased toxicity to liver.
Tetracyclines* Increased adverse reactions of
Tretinoin Increased toxicity.
Vitamin A Increased toxicity.

Possible Interaction with Other Substances

--------------- ---------------
Alcohol: May cause hypertriglyceridemia.
Milk. Aids absorption of etretinate.
Cocaine: None expected.
High-fat diet or Aids absorption of
milk products. etretinate.
Marijuana: None expected.
Tobacco: None expected.

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