Most of the publications on isotretinoin, pregnancy and compliance with the pregnancy prevention programme (PPP) originate from North America. Information specific for the European situation is very limited. The aim of this study was to identify publications describing the use of isotretinoin in humans and the compliance with the PPP in Europe, a systematic search in Medline and Embase was conducted using the terms 'isotretinoin, pregnancy (and Europe)'. Furthermore, a manual search in publications was performed. A total of 17 publications were identified. Publications consisted of case reports of exposed pregnancies, surveys among dermatologists or pharmacists and database studies evaluating compliance with the PPP. The studies and surveys dealt with groups of patients exposed to isotretinoin before or during pregnancy and/or compliance with the isotretinoin PPP. Where the information was provided, in 6-26% of cases isotretinoin was prescribed in full accordance with the PPP. Pregnancy incidence was seen in 0·2-1·0 per 1000 women of childbearing age using isotretinoin. Between 65% and 87% of these pregnancies were terminated. This review of studies in Europe performed to date shows failures in the implementation of the PPP. Therefore, the isotretinoin PPP must be scrutinized to identify whether new measures should be taken or whether the failures in the implementation need to be corrected. New measures should take into account the definition of the ultimate goal of a PPP and the acceptable burden. In the meantime, stakeholders could make a start with adjustments in the implementation of the PPP by taking responsibility and enhancing the performance by explicit instructions, monitoring the performance and adjusting, if necessary.
© 2011 The Authors. BJD © 2011 British Association of Dermatologists.