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Broiling about “Etretinate’s Curse” (a.k.a. Tegison)
Backstory: Turned Down as Blood Donor Because of Tegison, from Jane J.
Your correspondence with Jane J. in 1999 came up on a search of “banned from blood donation.” I, too, years after taking a 3-4 day prescription of etretinate for psoriasis, was told that I was banned for life from ever giving blood. I am outraged. I still feel Jane J.'s outrage at this, after not being told. I have a daughter who shares my blood type: Had I ever been called to give blood to her (perhaps to save her life) I would have! Would I have known that later she could have had a child with birth defects? -Barbara B.
Ed's Response: Yes, Etretinate (marketed in the U.S. as Tegison) has become a skeleton in the pharmaceutical closet because of the long-term chance of birth defects it “permanently attached” to users. It was pulled from the market in Canada in 1996 and in the U.S. in 1998; subsequently replaced here by Soriatane, a.k.a. acitretin, which is a derivative of the original Etretinate sans this nasty side effect.
When the long-term danger was publicized in the U.S., blood banks everywhere began screening donators to eliminate the chance of donated blood passing along the birth defects tendency to unwitting blood recipients. But before those safeguards were formulated, I imagine some etretinate-tainted blood made it into hapless victims.When Tegison was used in the U.S. there was a pregnancy warning associated with it. If I remember correctly, it cautioned women to avoid becoming pregnant while using and for some number of months after using Tegison. The real outcries began later, just before the drug was pulled out of the market, when it was revealed that the birth-defect potential became a lifetime issue for Tegison users. -Ed