Annabel Wright: Roaccutane acne drug linked to deaths mother tells inquest

The parents of a teenage girl who was found dead in her bedroom believe her death is linked to her use of an acne drug, an inquest has heard.

Annabel Wright, 15, was discovered by her family at her home near Ripon in North Yorkshire on 1 May 2019.

Her parents said she was prescribed isotretinoin in the months before her death but they were not properly warned about its rare side effects.

Her mother said she had heard about cases of suicide linked to the drug.

Giving evidence at the inquest in Northallerton, her mother Helen Wright said her daughter had acne from the age of 12 and had tried a variety of prescribed treatments.

Annabel was referred by her GP to see dermatologists at Harrogate District Hospital in October 2018, the inquest heard.

“We adored her, she adored us, we were a close family.”

After isotretinoin was recommended as a potential treatment by Dr Ibtessam El-Mansori, Mrs Wright mentioned she had heard about cases in the US of young people who had killed themselves being connected to the drug.

“[The dermatologist] said that could be because they are depressed about their skin,” Mrs Wright said.

“Annabel wasn’t, she wasn’t depressed about her skin.”

‘No proven link’

She told the inquest she was given information about some rare side effects, but a mention of suicide was within this “very specific context”.

Dr El-Mansori told the inquest she had recommended isotretinoin, sold under the brand name Roaccutane, to Annabel as she was “at risk of permanent scarring” and she hadn’t responded to previous treatments.

She agreed Mrs Wright had mentioned suicide cases to her, adding: “I always say to patients no proven causal relationship has been established.”

The dermatologist told the inquest no psychological concerns were identified with Annabel, other potential treatments were also offered and she followed all British Association of Dermatologists guidelines for acne treatments.



image source, Getty Images

Professor Anthony Chu, a dermatologist called as an expert witness, said the drug should only be used for treating “severe acne” and in his view Annabel did not fit this criteria.

Regulatory bodies needed to address its common use for non-severe cases, he added.

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When asked by coroner Jonathan Leach if she thought her daughter’s death was linked to the drug, Mrs Wright replied: “Absolutely – normal, happy people don’t just commit suicide without any sign or lead up to it”.

Describing their relationship, Annabel’s father, Simon Wright, said: “We adored her, she adored us, we were a close family.”

Mr Wright said he last saw his daughter 20 minutes before she died and he had earlier discussed an upcoming school Spanish exam with her.

He said: “She wore her heart on her sleeve so you’d always be able to tell if there was a change in her mood.”

The inquest continues.

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