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FDA forces unproven premature birth drug Makena off market


Nepalnews
AP
2023 Apr 07, 10:58, WASHINGTON
FILE - This image provided by Covis Pharma shows packaging for the company's Makena medication. The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday, April 6, 2023 ordered the immediate market withdrawal of a drug intended to prevent premature births, which has remained available for years despite data showing it doesn't help pregnant women. The decision follows repeated efforts by Swiss drugmaker Covis Pharma to keep Makena on the U.S. market while it conducted additional studies. (Covis Pharma via AP)

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday ordered the immediate market withdrawal of a drug intended to prevent premature births, which has remained available for years despite data showing it doesn’t help pregnant women.

The decision follows repeated efforts by Swiss drugmaker Covis Pharma to keep Makena on the U.S. market while it conducted additional studies. The medication was the only drug approved in the U.S. to help reduce the risk of early births in women with a history of preterm deliveries.

In recent months, Covis finally bowed to FDA pressure, proposing a “winding down” period of several months so that women taking the drug could complete their treatment. The FDA rejected that and said Thursday that the action against Makena and several generic versions should take effect immediately.

“Makena and its generics are no longer approved and cannot lawfully be distributed in interstate commerce,” the agency said in a statement.

The injectable drug is a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone, which helps the uterus sustain pregnancy. It can cause side effects, including blood clots, depression and allergic reactions. Given those risks, FDA staffers previously concluded there was no upside to keeping the drug available, given its lack of confirmed benefit.

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday ordered the immediate market withdrawal of a drug intended to prevent premature births, which has remained available for years despite data showing it doesn’t help pregnant women.

The decision follows repeated efforts by Swiss drugmaker Covis Pharma to keep Makena on the U.S. market while it conducted additional studies. The medication was the only drug approved in the U.S. to help reduce the risk of early births in women with a history of preterm deliveries.

In recent months, Covis finally bowed to FDA pressure, proposing a “winding down” period of several months so that women taking the drug could complete their treatment. The FDA rejected that and said Thursday that the action against Makena and several generic versions should take effect immediately.

“Makena and its generics are no longer approved and cannot lawfully be distributed in interstate commerce,” the agency said in a statement.

The injectable drug is a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone, which helps the uterus sustain pregnancy. It can cause side effects, including blood clots, depression and allergic reactions. Given those risks, FDA staffers previously concluded there was no upside to keeping the drug available, given its lack of confirmed benefit.

About 10% of U.S. births come too early — before 37 weeks, raising the risk of serious health problems and even death in infants.

“It is tragic that the scientific research and medical communities have not yet found a treatment shown to be effective in preventing preterm birth and improving neonatal outcomes,” Califf said in a statement Thursday. Women who have a current prescription for the drug should direct any questions to their doctor, the agency said.

The FDA has faced pressure to crack down on unproven drugs cleared under its accelerated approval program, which since the early 1990s has allowed dozens of drugs to launch based on early results.

The flipside of the program means removing drugs if their initial promise isn’t confirmed by later studies. Researchers and government watchdogs have chronicled problems with FDA’s oversight, including delays in quickly removing drugs with failed or missing confirmatory studies. In the last two years the FDA has stepped up efforts to remove unproven approvals, mainly from cancer therapies.


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Food and Drug Administration immediate market Pregnant Women prevent premature births Swiss drugmaker Covis Pharma US market FDA pressure
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