A new study has called into question the safety of the popular drug Zofran. GlaxoSmithKline manufactures Zofran, also known as ondansetron. Zofran is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, radiation treatment and surgery. It is also prescribed by some doctors to treat nausea experienced by pregnant women. The study indicates that pregnant women who take Zofran may suffer an increased risk of severe birth defects and other injuries.
Morning sickness affects roughly three-fourths of all pregnant women and can last for months. It is caused by rising hormone levels and often strikes women in the first trimester of pregnancy. Zofran works by blocking the action of the chemical serotonin. The off-label use of Zofran to combat morning sickness has grown tremendously since the drug was first approved in the early 1990s. Roughly one million women pregnant women take Zofran every year to treat nausea.
The new study questions whether the drug is safe to be taken during pregnancy. It reviewed the medical history of 900,000 women in Denmark and found that Zofran could double the risk of cardiac malformations. The study found a 30 percent increase in major congenital malformations among those exposed to Zofran. The December 2014 issue of American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology published the study.
Zofran is not the only anti-nausea drug on the market. There are alternatives that have been tested for use as treatments for morning sickness. These alternatives should be prescribed as long as there is the potential for harm to mothers and their unborn children from Zofran.
Source: Drugwatch, “Popular Nausea Drug Zofran May Increase Risk of Birth Defects,” by Michell Llamas, 18 February 2015