Man murders doctor who prescribed him Accutane, claimed it ruined his life

(Image: The Outfit)

Via Chicago Tribune and Chicago Magazine – A sentence to life in prison was made after the murder of a dermatologist who prescribed Accutane which allegedly caused serious adverse effects to the killer.

Reports say that Hans Peterson traveled to French-controlled island of St. Martin and admitted his crime to the authorities on August 6, 2007. He turned himself in to the French police and confessed to killing Dr. David Cornbleet in his office in Chicago. He blamed Cornbleet for prescribing him isotretinoin, or more popularly known as the brand Accutane, an oral drug to treat severe acne.

Peterson took the drug only twice in 2002 but felt various ill effects such as depression, loss of sexual sensitivity and libido, and tinnitus or ringing in the ears. In June 2002, he started posting on a website forum for people who took the drug to treat acne and experienced adverse effects. He went on to post about his distress for five years as well as his anger towards the company that produced the drug, Roche Pharmaceuticals. In his last post, which was nine months after the murder, he said that justice would not be served in the legal system as the company will be shielded from personal liability.

Roche Pharmaceuticals admitted that the controversial drug can cause depression, psychosis, and rarely, suicidal thoughts. Truly, the drug includes a product information insert that contains a warning to stop the medication if a patient or his family member observes symptoms of depression or psychosis.

Digging deeply

Meanwhile, a definitive account of the Peterson case, entitled “Bloodlines” by Chicago’s Bryan Smith, tells the story of the murder from the perspective of the doctor’s son and the father of the accused. It also details Peterson’s long history of serious mental illness since his high school years and his growing obsession with Accutane. It also mentioned his attendance in law school before his life was unhinged.

In the same account, Peterson regarded Cornbleet as an “unethical old man”. He talked to his roommate, who lived with him in an apartment while studying law, about harming the doctor “for what he had done to him”.

Meanwhile, the deceased dermatologist’s relatives said that he was a caring and attentive doctor who made sure that his patients’ needs were met, even if it meant working long hours.

Tinnitus and Stress

Tinnitus is an endogenous sensation in the ears which manifests as sound perceived in the absence of an external stimuli. It is more popularly known as ringing in the ears, although it can also be perceived as buzzing, humming or screeching sound, among others. Click on this link to find out what this sounds like.

In connection to the article above, tinnitus is a noted side effect associated with the use of Isotretinoin. However, it is one that is very exceptional (less than 1 in 10,000). A study published in 2011 reported a rare case of diminished hearing and tinnitus in a 15-year old boy who took the drug for six weeks. His symptoms immediately improved after withdrawal of the drug.

Aside from medication, tinnitus can be caused by plenty of other factors. These include trauma, vascular or metabolic problems, hearing loss, tumors, and Meniere’s disease.

Despite the side effect’s rarity, tinnitus is still a symptom that can cause distress. Previous studies have shown that tinnitus is linked to depression, anxiety and irritability. On the other hand, research has also demonstrated that stress induces tinnitus. Otologists and audiologists have noted patients complaining about psychosocial distress prior to or during the onset of tinnitus.

How could Tinnitus Cause this from a side effect?

Can you imagine how bad the ringing in his head must be? I understand as I  and millions of others live with it every day. Drug side effects are no joke. We are living in a very pharmaceutical time where Big Pharma rules, and they do warn you of the side effects and we have become a society that if a doctor says it’s ok just take it.

So what is the take away from this strategy? We can’t bring the doctor back and many were damaged just from the simple act of taking a simple harmless-looking pill.

Earplugs grant better sleep

You need to really sit down with your doctor when they want to prescribe you something and really talk with them about all the possible side effects and see if there is a workaround. Often when you read and understand the side effects they are much worse than having the issue you came in for.

Really understand what has just been prescribed because sometimes there is no going back.

Tinnitus is no joke.


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  2. Martinez, E. (2009, June 24). Cheerleader Stabbed 16 Times… Because Of Pimple Meds? Retrieved from
  3. Guilfoile, K. (1970, January 1). Hans Peterson Verdict: Life in Prison. Retrieved from
  4. Rosende, L., Verea-Hernando, M. M., de Andrés, A., Piñeyro-Molina, F., Barja, J., Castro-Castro, S., & Fonseca, E. (2011). Hypoacusia in a patient treated by isotretinoin. Case reports in medicine2011, 789143. doi:10.1155/2011/789143
  5. The Tinnitus Clinic. (n.d.). What Does Tinnitus Sound Like? Retrieved from
  6. Rizzardo, R., Savastano, M., Maron, M. B., Mangialaio, M., & Salvadori, L. (1998). Psychological distress in patients with tinnitus. The Journal of Otolaryngology27(1), 21–25.
  7. Mazurek, B., Haupt, H., Olze, H., & Szczepek, A. J. (2012). Stress and tinnitus-from bedside to bench and back. Frontiers in systems neuroscience6, 47. doi:10.3389/fnsys.2012.00047