A leading dermatology doctor has claimed that a drug designed to treat acne has been overprescribed to young people, leading to a increase in depression.

Roaccutane is the most powerful drug to treat acne and has been prescribed to more than half a million people but Dr. Tony Chu says it is "grossly overused" and should only be considered as a last resort.

"I've seen patients who have been to see a local dermatologist to treat four or five spots and still been offered it," Dr. Chu told BBC Newsbeat.

"If you read the guidelines it should only be used for people who have severe acne."

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the government body responsible for licensing drugs and treatments in the UK and speaking on behalf of the group, Dr June Raine insisted most people respond well to the drug and some are depressed before taking the drug.

"It's been a highly effective treatment for tens of thousands of people," she added.

"Depression is linked with a severe skin condition but it tends to get worse as the condition gets worse."

More than half a million people have been prescribed Roaccutane worldwide but figures produced by manufacturer Roche say only one in 10,000 will experience serious side-effects from taking the drug.

Latest figures show there were nine suicides of people who were taking Roaccutane recorded between September 2010 and September 2011.

Posted 26/11/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com