Drugs, Pregnancy & Lactation

The FDA’s novel drugs approved in 2017



Latanoprostene bunod (Vyzulta) (MW 508) is a prostaglandin analog that is indicated to reduce intraocular pressure. No quantifiable plasma concentrations of latanoprostene bunod were detected in nonpregnant patients. However, very low levels of latanoprost acid (51-59 pg/mL), the active metabolite, were detected with the maximal plasma concentration occurring 5 minutes after administration. When given intravenously to pregnant rabbits, the drug was shown to be abortifacient and teratogenic, but these effects were not observed in pregnant rats. Netarsudil (Rhopressa) (MW 454) is a kinase inhibitor indicated to reduce intraocular pressure in patients with open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension. No quantifiable plasma concentrations of netarsudil were detected in 18 subjects. For the active metabolite, a plasma level of 0.11 ng/mL was found in one subject. Intravenous doses to pregnant rats and rabbits during organogenesis did not cause embryo-fetal adverse effects at clinically relevant systemic exposures.

Parathyroid hormone

Abaloparatide (Tymlos) (MW 3,961), given subcutaneously, is a human parathyroid hormone related peptide analog that is indicated for postmenopausal women with osteoporosis at high risk for fracture. Reproduction studies in animals have not been conducted. Because of the indication, it is doubtful if the agent will be used in pregnancy or during breastfeeding.


Benralizumab (Fasenra) (MW 150,000), given subcutaneously, is indicated for the add-on maintenance treatment of severe eosinophilic asthma. It is a human monoclonal IgG antibody and, though the MW is high, IgG antibodies are known to cross the placenta. Studies in monkeys found no evidence of fetal harm with intravenous doses throughout pregnancy that produced exposures up to about 310 times the exposure at the maximum recommended human dose.

The potential adverse effects in an infant when the mother is taking one of the above drugs while breastfeeding will be covered in my next column.

Mr. Briggs is clinical professor of pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco, and adjunct professor of pharmacy at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, as well as at Washington State University, Spokane. He coauthored “Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation” and coedited “Diseases, Complications, and Drug Therapy in Obstetrics.” He reported having no relevant financial disclosures.


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