A newly published report in the medical journal Neurology links a popular pain medication with the increased presence of birth defects when that medication is used by pregnant women. The medicine, Lyrica, is primarily used in the treatment of fibromyalgia and other nerve conditions associated with pain but has some use in broader treatment here in the United States.
Lyrica is manufactured by Pfizer and has had a history of issues in the public media since its introduction into the medicinal market domestically. Notably, Pfizer was fined a record $2.3 billion in 2009 for reportedly promoting Lyrica and two other drugs for treatment of conditions that had not been approved by medical regulators after Pfizer pleaded guilty to mislabeling the drug with an intent to defraud or mislead.
Pregabalin, the generic name for Lyrica, is labeled as not intended for use by pregnant women or those who may become pregnant and the results of use during pregnancy were unclear as a result. However, scientists associated with the new study reviewed data from women who were on the drug when they became pregnant and monitored those women and their babies both before and after the time of birth. When compared to the population at large, the babies born to women who used Lyrica at some point during their pregnancies were found to have an increased risk of birth defects including neural tube defects. Similar studies in animals have noted an increased risk of neural tube defects as well as skeletal abnormalities, lending strength to this newly publicized concern over use of Lyrica while pregnant.
Though the drug has not been marketed to pregnant women, many of the women followed in this study were on the medication before they became pregnant and only discontinued use after learning of their pregnancies. By this time, several weeks may have passed with the embryo or fetus exposed to the medication.
The current study is the first to find a link between Lyrica and an increased presence of birth defects so researches note that more information should be gathered and reviewed. However, in the interim, it is important to address these results if you or someone you love uses Lyrica and is or may become pregnant.
Presently, patients are encouraged to discuss the risks of any medication they may take with their physicians if they plan to become pregnant. If pregnancy is possible even if not planned, it is also wise to have a conversation with your doctor ahead of time so that you can be fully informed about your risks and your options.
If you were injured by using a medication with a side effect that was not disclosed to you or if your child was born with birth defects as a result of a defective drug, know that you may be entitled to legal relief for your damages.
Prior Blog Entry:
Seat Belts Still Important for Driver, Passenger Safety, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published May 23, 2016.
Popular Pain Drug Linked to Birth Defects, by Alice Park, Time.com, published May 18, 2016.