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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

The High Cost of Acne Resolution

Could be due to the heat and humidity of summer, the stress of high-action, competitive sports, or glands gone wild with oil overproduction.  In any event, Petya has acne and the dermatologist declared that it’s not going to get better any time soon.

“Young man, I can help you,” the Italian doctor assured him.

Petya had historically been against any type of medication which could harm his body.  The doctor confirmed that topical applications, eating well, and systemized scrubbing would not get the job done in his case.

“You have a choice of tetracycline or Accutane,” he summed up, explaining the benefits and drawbacks of each medication.  “Accutane is the best and fastest, taken by tablet for about six months… and you’re done.  Should the acne ever return, it’s in a much milder form, if at all.”

The doctor’s office sported a Tuscan ceramic sign, stating in Italian, “God save me from lawyers and doctors.”  As he rehearsed for us the possible side effects of Accutane, I believe Benedetto was praying such a prayer, his face contorting into a horrified look.

The dermatologist ticked off for us the seriousness of the medication, listing the following potentialities:  inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, suicidal thoughts and hearing voices, birth defects if pregnant, liver damage, and gastrointestinal disorders, just to name a few.  Unlikely… yet possible.

Actually, Accutane was removed from the market in 2009 due to many personal injury lawsuits and it’s now the generic isotretinoin which is prescribed.  Same kind of side effects.

“You must have open communication,” the doctor instructs.  “Do not go out of the country and leave him on his own for days at a time, for instance.  If he starts feeling or behaving differently, he must let you know, or you must observe it.”


We sign release forms, saying that we understand all of the above.  With basically worthless insurance with a very high deductible, Benedetto pays the $175 doctor’s fee, as we head to the lab for Petya’s blood to be checked at $90 a pop.  It looks like these two fees will recur once a month for the next six months.

In our own warped way, having been warned that our son could possibly DIE or suffer some other type of malady, we feel encouraged.  A very outgoing, positive self-image, happy-go-lucky kind of teen, popular Petya has never really “suffered” from acne, but after two years of this….

Later, our son heads off to his volunteer job, and my husband stops at the pharmacy to have the prescription filled.  Again, we need to verify that we know the risks involved.  Kinda scary.  They phone the doctor and Benedetto returns to pick up the meds.  He arrives home, shell-shocked.

“What?” I take one look at his face.  “Expensive?” I ask.

“Guess, just take a guess,” his gaze meets mine.

“I don’t know, $200?” It must be something outrageous like that.

“Put on your glasses,” he instructs, holding out the pharmacy bag, receipt stapled to it.

“NO… no…” I shake my head.  “Oh wait—that’s for six months?”


“How can that be?  Is it a mistake?  Is there a generic form of the drug???” I’m flabbergasted.

“I asked the pharmacist.  That IS the generic form.”

“Oh.  Oh….  Well, aren’t birth control pills supposed to regulate acne?  Maybe we can put him on that,” I make an attempt at some levity.  “Definitely cheaper….”

I discuss with Petya that it’s nice that he has so many volunteer jobs, but it may be time to start looking for paid employment.  On his limited schedule, he’d need to locate a position that pays in the $50 per hour range, unlikely for a 15 year old.


Who knew acne treatment would be so expensive?  I briefly consider buying low-cost acne meds online, but read about the possibility of diluted doses, expired meds, and even more potential side effects from purchasing unverified potencies.  I guess we’ll just have to bite the bullet.

College can wait.  Gotta look good first.




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4 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar hoonew says:

    I had no idea!

  2. avatar Sarah says:

    Isn’t it amazing? Another adoptive mom was on the phone with a family who just got their travel dates and the family is very stressed about the cost of the plane fare. I laughed and said they need to forget it and enjoy the trip as this expense is the beginning of an incredible amount of money being spent on things they could never even imagine right now! Oh what they have to look forward to!

    • avatar admin says:

      Isn’t that the truth, Sarah! If we can save money where we can, I guess it all evens out in the end…. Right? Right??? lol.