A new morning sickness drug has been approved for use in the UK, and it could be what many pregnant women have been waiting for.
Xonvea is the first drug to be licensed to treat the nausea women feel in their first trimester since Thalidomide in the 1950s – a drug that led to children being born with birth defects in one of the biggest health scandals in history.
This new drug has gone through its final clinical trials and was found to reduce the amount of nausea women felt by two thirds. It also cut the number of episodes of sickness from four a day to just one.
“We welcome the news that finally, a licence has been granted for a medication to treat nausea and vomiting in pregnancy,” said Clare Murphy, director of External Affairs at Bpas. “We know that many women are simply told to put up with debilitating symptoms on the basis that no medication is safe in pregnancy, when in fact the risks of not treating may be significantly higher.
“Our hope is that a licensed product will give doctors confidence to prescribe for women who need it.”
Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP) is one of the most common reasons for pregnant women to be admitted to hospital. In 2016/17, there were 33,071 hospital admissions for NVP in England,
Murphy said despite the licensing of this drug, it’s important to note that if this medication does not work or symptoms deteriorate, a number of other safe medications are available and used for pregnant women.
“[Also], this medication is a first level of treatment for pregnancy sickness and will generally not be sufficient to treat the most severe form of the condition, Hyperemesis Gravidarum, the condition suffered by the Duchess of Cambridge,” she added.
“Bpas sees women whose sickness is so debilitating they are left with no choice but to terminate what is often a very much wanted pregnancy; with early treatment with medications including Xonvea, our hope would be that for at least some women, their symptoms and sickness will not escalate to the point that they need our services.”
Also commenting on the release of Xonvea, Caitlin Dean, chair of Pregnancy Sickness Support charity, said: “Hopefully, with the licensing of Xonvea, doctors will have the confidence to prescribe and women will have the confidence to take medication for their symptoms rather than suffer in silence.
“We all know that sickness is normal, expected and even at times, but for some women symptoms are severe enough to substantially impact their day-to-day lives and can be utterly miserable to endure.”
In April 2015, a joint report by Bpas and the Pregnancy Sickness Support charity stated around 1,000 expectant mothers undergo abortions every year because they suffer from morning sickness.
The NHS states around seven out of 10 pregnant women experience nausea and/or vomiting, and this doesn’t just occur in the morning. It will usually clear up by weeks 16 to 20 of pregnancy.
Primary and secondary care doctors in the UK will now be able to prescribe Xonvea to pregnant women.