Britains first licensed morning sickness drug could help prevent abortions

Caitlin Dean, Chair of Pregnancy Sickness Support charity, commented: “Hopefully, with the licensing of Xonvea, doctors will have the confidence to prescribe and women will have the confidence to take medication for their symptoms rather than suffer in silence.“We all know that sickness is  normal, expected and even at times, a welcome part of pregnancy but for some women symptoms are severe enough to substantially impact their day to day lives and can be utterly miserable to endure.” Although dubbed morning sickness, only a small number of women actually experience nausea in the morning, with most having symptoms throughout the day.Severe sickness is one of the most common reasons for pregnant women to be admitted into hospital. In 2016-2017, there were 33,071 hospital admissions in England, resulting in 36,171 bed days and costing the NHS around £62 million a year.Yet charities warned that often women are not taken seriously enough and are left feeling like they are making a fuss, even when experiencing symptoms such as vomiting up blood. Some women report vomiting 50 times a day and can suffer dehydration, low blood pressure and severe weight loss.However, doctors have been unwilling to treat women for morning sickness since the thalidomide scandal of the 1960s which left thousands of children with severe birth defects after their mothers were treated with the sedative. The first drug for morning sickness since thalidomide has been licensed in Britain in a breakthrough which could prevent hundreds of women aborting their babies because their pregnancy is unbearable.In final clinical trials Xoneva was found to reduce the amount of nausea by two thirds and cut the number of episodes of sickness from four a day to just one.Previously doctors have been reluctant to prescribe anti-nausea drugs to pregnant women for fear of complications, leaving them with few options except traditional remedies such as ginger or acupuncture.Around 80 per cent of pregnant women report some kind of morning sickness and up to 2 per cent will be diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form likened to the nausea caused by chemotherapy and from which the Duchess of Cambridge suffered.According to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) around 1,000 pregnancies are terminated each year in Britain because women’s symptoms are so debilitating.Clare Murphy, Director of External Affairs at Bpas said: “We welcome the news that finally, a licence has been granted for a medication to treat nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.“We know that many women are simply told to put up with debilitating symptoms on the basis that no medication is safe in pregnancy, when in fact the risks of not treating may be significantly higher. Our hope is that a licensed product will give doctors confidence to prescribe for women who need it. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. “Bpas sees women whose sickness is so debilitating they are left with no choice but to terminate what is often a very much wanted pregnancy; with early treatment with medications including Xonvea, our hope would be that for at least some women, their symptoms and sickness will not escalate to the point that they need our services.” read more

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