Drugs, Pregnancy & Lactation

The FDA’s novel drugs approved in 2017


Central nervous system

Deutetrabenazine (Austedo) (MW 324) is an oral drug indicated for the treatment of chorea associated with Huntington’s disease and for tardive dyskinesia. When given to rats during organogenesis there was no clear effect on embryo-fetal development.

Edaravone (Radicava) (MW 174), given as an intravenous infusion, is indicated for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Doses that were not maternal toxic did not cause embryo-fetal toxicity in rats and rabbits. However, the no-effect dose for developmental toxicity was less than the recommended human dose. Naldemedine (Symproic) (MW 743) is an opioid antagonist indicated for the treatment of opioid-induced constipation. The drug crosses the human placenta and may precipitate opioid withdrawal in the fetus. The drug caused no embryo-fetal adverse effects, even at high doses, in pregnant rats and rabbits.

Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus) (MW 145,000), an intravenous agent, is used to treat patients with multiple sclerosis. The MW is high but immunoglobulins are known to cross the placenta. When given to monkeys at doses similar to or greater than the human dose, there was increased perinatal mortality, depletion of B-cell populations, and renal, bone marrow, and testicular toxicity in the offspring in the absence of maternal toxicity. Safinamide (Xadago) (MW 399) is an oral drug indicated as adjunctive treatment to levodopa/carbidopa in Parkinson’s disease. In rats, the drug was teratogenic (mainly urogenital defects) at all doses. When it was combined with levodopa/carbidopa or used alone, increased rates of fetal visceral and skeletal defects occurred at all doses studied. In rabbits, given the combination throughout organogenesis, there was an increased incidence of embryo-fetal death and cardiac and skeletal defects. Based on these data, avoiding the drug in pregnancy appears to be the best course.

Valbenazine (Ingrezza) (MW 419) is indicated for the treatment of tardive dyskinesia. The drug caused no malformations in rats and rabbits. However, in rats given the drug during organogenesis through lactation, an increase in the number of stillborn pups and postnatal pup mortalities was observed.


Recommended Reading

VIDEO: The effect of removing pregnancy drug category labeling
MDedge ObGyn
Fewer preterm deliveries, and perinatal mortality down
MDedge ObGyn
Babies exposed to SSRIs in utero have decreased LV size
MDedge ObGyn
CARPREG II fine-tunes assessment of cardiac complication risk in pregnancy
MDedge ObGyn
FDA warns of birth defect risks from dolutegravir
MDedge ObGyn