Link between Zofran and Birth Defects
When Zofran was approved in 1992 by the FDA, the drug was originally prescribed to patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation to prevent nausea and vomiting. By blocking the body’s natural substance serotonin which causes vomiting, the medication was able to help cancer patients. As doctors discovered how well Zofran worked, it wasn’t long before they began prescribing the drug to other patients who were not undergoing cancer treatment. According to the website of Williams Kherkher, even though it was not approved for such use, Zofran began being prescribed to pregnant women who suffered from extreme morning sickness. Sadly, it wasn’t until more than 20 years later that doctors began noticing a link between birth defects and taking Zofran during pregnancy.
In 2012, a study published by the Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention found that taking Zofran during pregnancy doubled a child’s risk for developing a cleft palate or cleft lip. Further studies even found the drug could cause congenital heart defects. Unfortunately, many women had already taken the drug, causing their child suffering from one or more of these medical conditions as a result. Even after these studies found the danger of the drug, doctors continued to prescribe the drug off label to pregnant women. The medical conditions caused by an unborn fetus being exposed to Zofran can be lifelong and cause serious emotional trauma. Recently, the company who makes the drug, GlaxoSmithKline, paid out $2 billion dollars for falsely marketing the drug as a treatment for morning sickness in pregnant women.
Zofran, while a viable option for cancer patients, can cause devastating medical conditions in newborns. Without the proper warnings from the company who made the drug, pregnant women and their children were left to suffer as a result of improperly being prescribed the drug. Despite the payout from GSK and an official warning for pregnant women about the drug in 2013, the suffering caused by Zofran continues.