FDA: Taking migraine drugs during pregnancy not worth the risk

A pharmaceutical that is safe for an adult to take can be a dangerous drug for a fetus. It is critical for doctors to warn women of child-bearing age of these risks. Pharmaceuticals containing the active ingredient valproate sodium already require a box warning detailing the risk for birth defects, but after additional studies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is taking additional precautions.

A handful of pharmaceuticals with this active ingredient demonstrate a risk for decreasing the intelligence of children born to mothers taking this medication during pregnancy. Researchers at Emory University found a correlation between pregnant women taking these drugs and having children prone to lower IQ scores, ranging 8 to 11 points below average at 6 years old.

Depakot and Depacon are two common drugs used to prevent migraines that contain this ingredient harmful to fetuses. The FDA reports that the benefit of the taking either of these pharmaceuticals for preventing migraines is dangerous for pregnant women, and fails to outweigh the serious risks posed to developing fetuses. Consequently, the FDA is working with the drug manufacturer to ensure a classification that will prevent pregnant women from taking these drugs.

However, these drugs are also commonly used for the treatment of bipolar disorder and seizures. The FDA will not contraindicate taking these pharmaceuticals for treatment of these conditions in women of child-bearing age. However, the FDA does emphasize that these pharmaceuticals should only be used as a last resort for such patients because of the risks.

While some drugs can improve the quality of life of user, other drugs can be dangerous. Depending on the circumstances and the drug, if an individual in Pennsylvania is harmed by the use of a pharmaceutical, there can be financial compensation available.

Source: Claims Journal, “FDA Warns of Migraine Drug Risk for Pregnant Women,” Matthew Perrone, May 9, 2013

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