Jeremy Hunt’s response to valproate pregnancy risks

Posted Oct 15 2017 in Anti-epileptic drugs / Living with epilepsy

In the lead-up to the EMA hearing on valproate, Clare Pelham, Chief Executive of Epilepsy Society, wrote to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health. She asked him to introduce mandatory annual reviews for women who take valproate-related drugs, and who could potentially become pregnant, so that they are fully informed of the risks the drugs pose to unborn babies.

The reply, more than three weeks later, was disappointing, because it implied that Government’s implementation of a toolkit (which is unlikely to be received/read by every woman who takes valproate), is sufficient.

You can read the correspondence on the Epilepsy Society website.

We support Epilepsy Society (and other epilepsy organisations) in their efforts to raise awareness of the risks of taking valproate-related medications during pregnancy, and we really hope that these efforts will be rewarded.

An MPs debate on valproate and foetal anti-convulsant syndrome took place in the Chamber of the House of Commons, on 19 October 2017. You can watch a recording of the debate online on or read a transcript of the debate here.

If you are taking a valproate-related drug, and are either planning a family or are pregnant, please see your neurologist as soon as possible. 

Dr Rebecca Bromley, at the University of Manchester, has done a lot of work surrounding the effects of exposure to antiepileptic drugs on unborn babies. You can read her latest findings here. Dr Bromley currently holds an Epilepsy Research UK project grant to investigate the effects of recurrent seizures during pregnancy. Click here to read more.

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