A BARNSTAPLE couple's fight to ban a controversial acne drug has reached Parliament after MP Sir Nick Harvey called for urgent action to be taken against the medication.
The North Devon MP called for an investigation to take place into the safety of the drug RoAccutane, which has been linked to suicides.
It follows a long campaign from Barnstaple couple Jonathan and Pamela Medland whose son, Jon, committed suicide in 2004 after taking RoAccutane for three weeks to treat mild acne.
Official UK figures show the drug has been implicated in reports of at least 878 psychiatric disorders, including 44 suspected suicides since its registration in 1983.
Speaking in Parliament, Mr Harvey said the continued use of the drug without further investigations was a gamble with young people's lives.
He said: "Families like the Medlands know how RoAccutane can turn an otherwise happy and bright young person's life upside down, throwing them into the horrors of deep depression.
"While RoAccutane clearly works for many young acne sufferers with no adverse side effects, the horrific evidence of cases like Jon's mean there is a clearly a vulnerable group.
"Until more is done to find out why, doctors are gambling with young people's lives."
Responding to the debate, Health Minister Norman Lamb said he understood the concerns raised, and offered to meet parents of the victims including Jon Medland to discuss the issue further.
Jon's father Jonathan said he was pleased that attention had finally been drawn to the safety of RoAccutane.
He said: "I was pleased to be able to go to Westminster and hear the Health Minister acknowledging our concerns.
"As parents who lost a previously happy and outgoing son in devastating circumstances, we have to continue the fight until RoAccutane's dangerous potential is taken seriously.
"While RoAccutane is still on the market, there is still a risk to some young people."
RoAccutane's manufacturer Roche maintains there is no causal link between taking the drug and suicidal tendencies.