Pregnant women reminded to check medicines with pharmacist or doctor

03 February 2018

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The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) today reminded consumers that over-the-counter ibuprofen medicines, like all other medicines, should only be used during pregnancy under the advice of a healthcare professional.

This follows reports of a study1 published in the journal Human Reproduction, which examined the relationship between use of ibuprofen in the first trimester of pregnancy interferes with the fertility of female children.

ASMI Regulatory and Legal Director, Steve Scarff, says: "OTC ibuprofen has a well-established safety profile and a long history of safe use in Australia and around the world for acute pain and fever."

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has completed a rigorous review of OTC NSAIDs (a category of medicines including ibuprofen), concluding that: "These drugs provide effective pain relief when used according to the label at recommended doses for short durations,"2 and that; "The use of OTC NSAIDs is safe when they were used according to the recommended doses for short durations, as instructed on the label."3

Products labels for over-the-counter ibuprofen products have the instruction:
"Do not use if you are pregnant or likely to become pregnant."

ASMI advises that women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should not take ibuprofen except on the advice of a doctor. Additionally, ASMI reminds pregnant women seeking pain relief to use it at the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time.

ASMI welcomes new research on over-the-counter medicines, however the research team for this study highlight that further studies would be required to determine the possible effect ibuprofen could have on human health during pregnancy. 

"While ibuprofen has been used in Australia for many years and does have a well-established safety profile, all medicines have risks," Mr Scarff said. "These risks need to be carefully weighed against the risks of not treating pain or fever during pregnancy. Consumers are therefore reminded to follow the label instructions and to talk to their healthcare professional about their pain relief options during pregnancy before they use any medicine."

-ENDS-

References         

  1. Ibuprofen is deleterious for the development of first trimester human fetal ovary ex vivo, Human Reproduction, 31 January 2018

  2. https://www.tga.gov.au/sites/default/files/medicines-review-nsaid.pdf (at page 65) 

  3. https://www.tga.gov.au/publication-issue/medicines-safety-update-volume-6-number-2-april-2015