New evidence in France of harm from epilepsy drug valproate

New evidence in France of harm from epilepsy drug valproate

A drug given to pregnant women for epilepsy and bipolar disorder caused "serious malformations" in up to 4,100 children, a French study suggests.

Mothers treated with valproate for epilepsy were up to four times likelier to give birth to a malformed child, the preliminary study found.

Introduced in France in 1967, valproate is prescribed widely worldwide.

Doctors in France are now advised not to give it to girls, women of childbearing age and pregnant women.

There was no immediate comment from the drug's manufacturer, Sanofi.


Some of those affected say France and the company were too slow to warn of side-effects.

The risk of birth defects associated with valproate, marketed as Epilim, Depakine, Depakote and Stavzor among other names, has been known since the 1980s, especially for spina bifida.

Potential risks were also identified in a UK study in 2013.

According to the new report (in French) by France's National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM), between 2,150 and 4,100 children suffered severe malformations linked to the drug.

"The study confirms the highly teratogenic [capable of causing birth defects] nature of valproate," Mahmoud Zureik, ANSM's scientific director and co-author of the report, told AFP news agency.

"The figure of about 3,000 severe malformations is very high."

Types of birth defects attributed to the drug include spina bifida - which occurs when a section of the spinal column does not form properly - and defects of the heart and genital organs.

The risk of autism and developmental problems was also found to be higher, and will be explored in a follow-up report due later this year.

Some families of children with birth defects born to women who took the drug while pregnant - grouped under an umbrella association known as APESAC (in French) - have sued Sanofi, saying that it did not adequately warn about the risks.

Women treated for bipolar disorder were at a lower risk than those treated for epilepsy, the study found, but were still twice as likely to give birth to children with major birth defects.

According to ANSM, this is because women treated for bipolar disorder were less exposed to the drug.



Add Comment

all comments

  Other news

more
Rally-goers arraigned for striking cops at ‘free speech’ Boston rally

Rally-goers arraigned for striking cops at ‘free speech’ Boston rally..

22-Aug, 21:20

The first 13 arraignments of protesters and counter-protesters at a...

Love Island's Camilla Thurlow delights fans as she shows off bomb disposal skills online – after Jamie Jewitt reveals truth behind their relationship

Love Island's Camilla Thurlow delights fans as she shows off bomb disposal skills online –..

23-Aug, 04:00

The bomb disposal expert jetted straight off to Greece to volunteer at a...

Vampire Diaries star Ian Somerhalder shares emotional love letter to wife Nikki Reed after she gives birth to the couple’s first child

Vampire Diaries star Ian Somerhalder shares emotional love letter to wife Nikki Reed after she..

22-Aug, 10:11

The Vampire Diaries star welcomed a baby girl with his wife, Twilight...

Lauren Goodger is STILL dating jailbird boyfriend Joey Morrisson despite split claims – and she 'can’t wait' to have a baby with him

Lauren Goodger is STILL dating jailbird boyfriend Joey Morrisson despite split claims – and..

23-Aug, 07:02

However, the former TOWIE star has now revealed that she is still dating...

Dem senator holds floor in 15-hour speech to slam Supreme Court nominee

Dem senator holds floor in 15-hour speech to slam Supreme Court nominee..

05-Apr, 11:40

Sen. Jeff Merkley today held the Senate floor and talked for more than...

A look at the life of convicted ex-Brazilian president Silva

A look at the life of convicted ex-Brazilian president Silva..

12-Jul, 18:10

NAME: Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva BIRTHDAY: Oct. 6, 1945 BIRTHPLACE:...

Miranda Kerr gives $8M of jewelry to the Justice Department

Miranda Kerr gives $8M of jewelry to the Justice Department..

27-Jun, 23:09

Model Miranda Kerr has turned over more than $8 million worth of jewelry...

Louisiana sheriff's deputy shot and killed in line of duty

Louisiana sheriff's deputy shot and killed in line of duty..

19-Mar, 13:18

A Louisiana sheriff's deputy was fatally shot late Saturday night while...