You Don’t Need To Be ‘Breaking Bad’ To Make The Morning Sickness Drug The FDA Just Approved — I Did It

shutterstock_61337857It’s been 30 years since there has been an FDA approved drug on the market designed to treat morning sickness in pregnant women, but that will change this summer. Sort of. In a recent decision, the FDA accepted the return of the drug to help pregnant women formerly known as Bendectin under the new name, Diclegis. Whatever you call it, all the components you need to make it are probably already in your medicine cabinet.

The treatment was pulled from shelves amid hundreds of lawsuits claiming the drug was causing birth defects. The FDA stood behind the drug and appeals courts ruled in favor of the pharmaceutical company making it, but Merrell Dow gave up the fight before it reached the US Supreme Court and quit making the product in 1983. Recent studies confirm the drug’s safety:

“We know safety-wise, there’s zero question,” said Dr. Gary Hankins of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, who headed one of the company-financed studies of Diclegis that led to its approval.

With little to no question that the birth defects of the previous lawsuits were unrelated, my guess is the mounting legal fees rendered the drug below desired profit margins. That’s where we can probably thank Kate Middleton. Her very public experience with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) revived the industry and a Canadian-based manufacturer promptly got back in line to serve the U.S. some more.

Dr. Jeffrey Ecker, spokesman for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), stressed that the “return of an FDA-cleared treatment is needed,” though it is unclear why.The pill is made of Vitamin B-6 combined with the antihistamine doxylamine, found in over-the-counter sleep aids.  In recent decades, U.S baby doctors have been instructing pregnant women to whip some up at home rather than suffer with no FDA official drug.  The ACOG went so far as to say the home remedy of over-the-counter materials should be considered “first-line therapy” for pregnancy sickness in 2004.

The midwife at my OB practice recommended the mixture when I suffered from severe pregnancy sickness with both of my children. It helped a little bit with my first pregnancy where I threw up only 3-5 times a day. For my second pregnancy, I was throwing up 10-12 times a day and the remedy didn’t even register. Those days my vomiting was triggered by even a sip of water.  Zofran – a drug typically given to cancer patients – was the only thing that could curb my HG, but I had to take it and immediately go to sleep to keep it down, so I wondered what was the point? The drug was supposed to be helping me function and take care of my 18-month-old, but by the time I woke up the effects were mostly worn off. We lived at my parent’s house that summer.

Even if you don’t have an extreme case of pregnancy sickness, don’t expect any miracles.

“It’s not magic,” Ecker cautioned, saying few women see their symptoms completely disappear with the medication. “But for some it allows them to be much more functional.”

In [a] study, about 260 U.S. women with morning sickness were given either Diclegis or a dummy pill for two weeks. The Diclegis users missed on average 1 1/2 fewer days of work than their counterparts.

1.5 fewer absences from work? I’m not impressed. The manufacturer has not released the going price yet, but I’d guess the home-mixture will be just as effective. At least we have another stamp of approval that the concoction is safe during pregnancy.

(photo: Kamil Macniak/Shutterstock)

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  • Eve Vawter

    My Breaking Bad Carinn! How did you make it?

    • Carinn Jade

      Just broke the Unisom capsule and the B6, mixed it up and swallowed it down! No lab required!

  • Kylie Drake

    I tried this to no avail. I HATED Zofran with a passion and 15 months after I last took it the thought of anything remotely strawberry flavored makes me gag!

    • Carinn Jade

      Isn’t it crazy how those feelings linger? I feel your pain!

  • Jessica Weber

    I don’t know about the other ingredient, but my doctor prescribed Vitamin B6 with my current baby and it seemed to help. Not all the time, but it took the edge off.

    • Carinn Jade

      Taking the edge off can make a big difference – it seems like that is the ideal outcome.

  • Amy

    What about Diclectin? I was prescribed that for my second pregnancy with my twins and it worked wonders.

    • Carinn Jade

      Are you in Canada? That is the name of the generic version of what they propose to sell in the US starting in June. Wow – so great to hear it worked wonders!!

    • Iwill Findu

      Oh yes, I loved my Diclectin with this pregnancy. I went from wanting to die if I even looked at a glass of water to being able to keep food down most of the time. 1 1/2 days might not seem like a lot to the writer but I work mostly night shifts so it made a difference in how often I was calling co-workers in the middle of the night to come take the rest of my shift because I needed to go the emergency room for dehydration.

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  • Sarah

    I can not tell you how thrilled I am to hear this! I’ve had HG with two of my three pregnancies and it is so miserable. My mother is always going on about how amazing Bendectin was for her, she was as sick as I was with her babies, but once she got on Bendectin said she felt as if she wasn’t even pregnant. This time around I’ve had zero luck with Phenergren and the Zofran only makes me puke slightly less. Maybe I will have a fourth kid after all…

  • ted

    I had nasty nausea-no actual vomiting but nauseous all day for months. I got tired of it and took Diclectin which worked really well. I adjusted when I took it for the times of the day I had the nausea worse and it worked quite well.

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