Children born to women who take valproate during pregnancy are at significant risk of birth defects and persistent developmental disorders. As such, it is vital that women and girls are dispensed valproate safely. The General Pharmaceutical Council is reminding all pharmacy professionals of what they must do to ensure women and girls receive the right information about valproate and the risk of birth defects. The update includes
Supplying valproate safely to women and girls
Pharmacy professionals have a key role in supplying valproate safely. Valproate must not be used in any woman or girl able to have children unless there is a pregnancy prevention programme (PPP) in place.
For women and girls, when they are dispensed valproate, they should expect:
- to be provided with a Patient Card every time valproate is dispensed
- for valproate to be dispensed with a copy of the patient information leaflet, and if repackaged, with a warning on the container supplied
- to be reminded of the risks in pregnancy and the need for highly effective contraception, and a reminder of the need for annual specialist review
- to be asked if they have received the Patient Guide.
You must make sure that the patient label is not placed over the warning labels or warning sticker on the box. Women taking valproate have shared with us examples of where this has happened.
When patients are visiting pharmacies for pregnancy tests or emergency hormonal contraception remember to ask them about any medications they are taking so you can provide further advice if their medicines are teratogenic.
- Find out more about what you need to do in: Focus on supplying medicines safely: sodium valproate.
- Watch film of two women whose children were affected by exposure to sodium valproate during their pregnancies.
- In-depth case study explores patient Millie’s interactions with the different healthcare professionals she meets.
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