Generic Name: acitretin, Oral capsule

Generic Name:

acitretin, Oral capsule

Soriatane

All Brands

  • Soriatane
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for acitretin

Oral capsule
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Acitretin is an oral drug used to treat severe psoriasis in adults.

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Common side effects include chapped lips, dry mouth or eyes, weak nails, nosebleeds, joint pain, and hair loss.

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It may take 2–3 months to see the full effect of acitretin. Your psoriasis may get worse when you first start taking the drug.

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Acitretin may make it harder for you to see at night. Be careful when driving or doing other dangerous activities at night.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

FDA Warning

This drug has a Black Box Warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients to potentially dangerous effects.

Pregnancy warning. Women who are pregnant or who want to become pregnant within the next 3 years shouldn’t take acitretin. This drug may cause major birth defects in babies if their mother takes it before or during pregnancy. Women who take acitretin must use reliable birth control while taking the drug and for at least 3 years after stopping.

Alcohol warning. Women shouldn’t ingest alcohol while taking this medication and for at least 2 months after stopping. This includes alcohol in food and in medicines, such as prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Alcohol changes the drug so it stays in your system much longer. This can increase your risk of toxic side effects.

Do your P.A.R.T program. P.A.R.T stands for Pregnancy Prevention Actively Required During and After Treatment. This program educates women of childbearing age and their doctors about the risks associated with acitretin. The goal is to help prevent pregnancies while on acitretin and for 3 years after using the drug.

  • Before starting acitretin, women of childbearing age must have two negative pregnancy tests.
  • Women must take a pregnancy test each month during treatment with this drug.
  • After stopping acitretin, women must take one pregnancy test every 3 months for at least 3 years.
  • Women of childbearing potential have to use two forms of birth control for at least one month before starting acitretin, during therapy, and for 3 years after stopping the drug.
  • Women will have to sign a patient agreement/informed consent form before starting this drug. The form has a warning about the risk of birth defects, contraceptive failure, and not ingesting alcohol during treatment with the drug and for 2 months after stopping.

Warning for donating blood. You shouldn’t donate blood while you’re taking acitretin and for at least 3 years after stopping the drug. This is to prevent women of childbearing age from receiving donated blood from people being treated with acitretin.

Liver disease warning. You shouldn’t take acitretin if you have severe liver problems. It can cause more damage to your liver.

Birth defects warning

Acitretin can cause severe birth defects in babies if women take it during pregnancy. Women of childbearing age should only use acitretin if they aren’t pregnant and don’t plan to become pregnant within the next 3 years. If you’re a woman of childbearing age, only use this drug if other medicines don’t work for your psoriasis or if you can’t use other psoriasis drugs.

Serious liver problems

This medication increases risk for serious liver problems. You doctor will do blood tests to see how well your liver is working before and during treatment.

Drug Features

Acitretin is a prescription medication. It’s available in as an oral capsule.

Acitretin is available in its generic form. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if the generic will work for you.

Why It's Used

Acitretin is used to treat severe psoriasis. If you’re a female of childbearing age, you should only use acitretin if other medications don’t work for your psoriasis or if you can’t use other psoriasis drugs.

How It Works

Acitretin belongs to a class of drugs called retinoids. It isn’t known exactly how acitretin works to treat psoriasis. It may work by reducing how quickly cells that cause psoriasis are formed.

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acitretin Side Effects

Oral capsule

Most Common Side Effects

The most common side effects that occur with acitretin include:

  • chapped lips

  • dry mouth and eyes

  • scaly or peeling skin on your fingertips, palms, and soles (bottoms of your feet)

  • weak nails

  • sticky or thinning skin

  • nosebleeds

  • joint pain

  • tight muscles

  • hair loss

  • higher cholesterol or triglyceride levels. This could increase your risk for heart problems. Your doctor will check your cholesterol while you take this drug.

Serious Side Effects

If you experience any of these serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms are potentially life threatening or if you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

  • liver problems. Symptoms may include:

    • yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
    • nausea and vomiting
    • loss of appetite
    • dark-colored urine
  • blurred vision or trouble seeing in the dark

  • feelings of depression or thoughts of suicide

  • shortness of breath or trouble breathing

  • swelling in your legs

  • skin rash that becomes red, swollen, painful, or peels

Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Acitretin does not cause drowsiness.

Mild side effects may disappear within a few days or a couple of weeks. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if they’re more severe or don’t go away.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 5

acitretin May Interact with Other Medications

Oral capsule

Acitretin can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. That’s why your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. If you’re curious about how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: You can reduce your chances of drug interactions by having all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. That way, a pharmacist can check for possible drug interactions.

Alcohol Interaction

Alcohol changes the drug so that it stays in your system much longer (3 years or more). This can increase your risk of toxic side effects.

Females shouldn’t ingest alcohol while taking this medication and for at least 2 months after stopping.

Medications That Might Interact with This Drug

Drugs that contain alcohol

Women shouldn’t ingest alcohol while taking this medication and for at least 2 months after stopping. This includes alcohol in food and in medicines, such as prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Alcohol changes the drug so that it stays in your system much longer. This can increase your risk of toxic side effects. 

Progestin-only birth control

Acitretin interacts with the effectiveness of progestin-only birth control. Don’t use these drugs together.

Methotrexate

Taking this drug with acitretin may increase your risk of liver disease.

Tetracyclines

Don’t take these drugs with acitretin. Combining them can increase the pressure inside your skull.

Vitamin A and oral retinoids

Don’t take acitretin with vitamin A or oral retinoids. This could cause toxic levels of vitamin A in your body.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

People with kidney disease

Don’t take acitretin if you have severe kidney disease. Tell your doctor if you have kidney disease before taking this medication.

People with liver disease

Acitretin can cause liver problems. You shouldn’t take this drug if you have severe liver disease. Your doctor will do blood tests to see how well your liver is working before and during treatment.

People with heart disease

Acitretin can raise your cholesterol levels. This could lead to serious heart problems. Your doctor will check your cholesterol while you take acitretin. 

People with diabetes

This drug may increase your blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, your doctor will monitor your blood sugar levels closely.

People with depression

Acitretin may cause symptoms of depression or other mood disorders. Talk to your doctor if you have a history of depression.

Pregnant women

Acitretin is a category X pregnancy drug. Category X drugs should never be used during pregnancy.

If you take acitretin, do not get pregnant for at least three years after you stop the drug.

Speak with your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

Women who are nursing

Acitretin may pass through breast milk and can cause serious side effects in a breastfeeding child.

You and your doctor should decide if you’ll take acitretin or breastfeed.

For Seniors

As you age, your kidneys, liver, and heart may not work as well. Since acitretin can cause serious side effects involving the kidneys, lungs, and heart, your doctor may give you a lower dose of the drug.

Allergies

Don’t take acitretin if you’re allergic to it or to any medication like it.

Don’t take acitretin again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal.

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How to Take acitretin (Dosage)

Oral capsule

All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your dose, form, and how often you take it will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What Are You Taking This Medication For?

Severe psoriasis
Form: Oral Capsule
Strengths: 10 mg, 17.5 mg, and 25 mg
Adult Dosage (ages 18 years and older)

The dose is 25–50 mg once per day.

Child Dosage (ages 0-17 years)

A safe and effective dose hasn’t been established for people younger than 18 years.

Special Considerations

Phototherapy: People being treated with phototherapy may need to reduce their phototherapy dose while taking this drug. Let your doctor know if you’re being treated with phototherapy.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Acitretin comes with serious risks if you don't take it as prescribed.

If You Don't Take It At All

If you don’t take acitretin at all or stop taking it, your psoriasis may get worse. 

What to Do If You Miss a Dose

If you forget to take your dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at your scheduled time.

Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in toxic side effects.

How to Tell If the Drug Is Working

You may be able to tell this drug is working if your symptoms of psoriasis get better.

Acitretin is a long-term drug treatment.

Important Considerations for Taking Acitretin
take with food Take acitretin with your main meal of the day
do not crush Don’t crush, break, or chew the capsules
storage Store in temperatures from 59–77°F (15–25°C) See Details
refillable Prescription is refillable
luggage Travel See Details
clinical monitoring Clinical Monitoring See Details
sun Sun Sensitivity See Details
not usually stocked Not every pharmacy stocks this drug, so call ahead
prior authorization needed Insurance See Details

Store in temperatures from 59–77°F (15–25°C)

Keep the drug away from light and high temperature.

Note: Keep your medications away from areas where they could get wet, such as bathrooms. Store them away from moisture and damp locations.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry it with you in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport X-ray machines. They can’t hurt this medication.
  • You may need to show your pharmacy’s preprinted label to identify the medication. Keep the original prescription-labeled bottle with you when traveling.

Clinical Monitoring

While you take this medication, your doctor may monitor your:

  • liver function
  • kidney function
  • cholesterol levels
  • blood sugar levels, if you have diabetes

If you’re a woman of childbearing age, you’ll also have to take pregnancy tests before, during, and after treatment with acitretin. Before starting the drug, you must have 2 negative pregnancy tests. You’ll take a pregnancy test each month during treatment. After stopping, you should take one pregnancy test every 3 months for at least 3 years.

Sun Sensitivity

Avoid sunlight and UV light.

If you’re taking acitretin, avoid sunlight and other ultraviolet (UV) light as much as possible.

Insurance

Many insurance companies will require a prior authorization before they approve the prescription and pay for acitretin.

Are There Any Alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be more suitable for you than others. Talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.

What does the pill look like?

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SECTION 5 of 5

How Much Does acitretin Cost?

Oral capsule
We've partnered with GoodRX so you can compare prices and save money on your next prescription. Check out the lowest cash prices below and enter your zip code to find the best deal near you.

Compare prices and save money on your next refill!

Lowest price for acitretin

Walgreens $442.71
Rite-Aid $469.01
Walmart $665.20
These represent the lowest cash prices for acitretin and may be lower than your insurance.

Find the lowest prices of acitretin near you

These represent the lowest cash prices for acitretin and may be lower than your insurance.

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on May 28, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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