Why Are Doctors Still Using Zofran For Pregnant Women?
Here's an interesting fact for you:
Did you know that Zofran is actually not approved by the FDA for use as an anti-nausea medication during pregnancy?
Zofran for morning sickness is an “off-label” use for the drug, which goes by the name ondansetron.
Yup. I had no idea either. I, myself, have given Zofran on a doctor's order to many a pregnant woman who have been in the hospital, and I always thought of it as a pretty neutral drug.
Zofran, which works by selectively blocking serotonin in the body, is prescribed for a reason because studies have found that it works.
However, the drug has not been studied specifically in pregnant women, and it has been shown to cause some heart rhythm irregularities in certain types of people at risk, so the drug has been raising some eyebrows lately. Studies that have looked at the safety of the drug in babies after being born found conflicting results: one found it was fine while the other found it caused heart problems.
So, in other words, we still don't exactly know, which leads us here — the place where we encourage women to have a conversation about what options are available for morning sickness. One expert states that we should only use Zofran “cautiously” — as a last resort after other, safer options have been tried.
For example, doctors may start prescribing the drug Diclegis as an option instead. Kim Kardashian recently made headlines when she posted about using the drug for her own severe morning sickness. “[Diclegis is] absolutely the only anti-nausea medication approved for use in pregnancy by the FDA,” Jill Rabin, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine told New York Magazine recently.
The Merck Manual of Drugs actually suggests Zofran at the bottom of their list of remedies for morning sickness, encouraging women instead to try vitamin B6 or even ginger first. Vitamin B6 has been clinically shown to improve mild to moderate morning sickness, so it's definitely worth a shot first instead of risking any side effects during pregnancy.
Did you take Zofran during your pregnancy?