New questions are now being raised about a controversial drug treatment for morning sickness. Health researchers in Toronto now question the effectiveness of Diclectin.
Diclectin is a combination of an antihistamine and vitamin B6. It was first tested more than a decade and a half ago, when a meta-analysis (or a study that synthesizes clinical trial data) revealed that it could help pregnant women overcome the nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy.
But one of the most important findings of the 1997 meta-analysis was that Diclectin could also prevent birth defects.
Now, researchers at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children say the 1997 study that approved Diclectin was flawed. Specifically, Toronto doctor Dr. Nav Persaud says the meta-analysis involved far fewer women than suggested. In other words, there needs to be more research examining Diclectin’s benefits and side-effects. Persaud also raised serious doubts about Diclectin’s ability to prevent birth defects in newborns.
Persaud says it’s time for medical professionals to re-evaluate their use of the Diclectin drug. He adds that he’s personally stopped using Diclectin, instead opting to prescribe vitamin B6 alone.
Still, Diclectin remains a popular treatment for morning sickness in Canada. One of its leading proponents (and the 1997 study’s lead author), Dr. Gideon Koren, has been out of the country and has not publicly responded to Persaud’s concerns.
However, it’s worth noting that Dr. Jennifer Blake, the chief executive officer of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, has stepped up to defend Diclectin. Blake says her organization recently carried out a review of Diclectin and Persaud’s findings and decided that there was no reason for physicians to discontinue prescribing the drug.