New pill available for acute morning sickness

Relief for mums suffering from debilitating morning sickness as medicine finally approved for release

Expectant mums suffering the misery of severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy can now be prescribed a medicine to ease their symptoms and make their pregnancy more bearable.

Xoneva has been widely used in the US since 2013 and Canada since 1979, but it has only been licensed in this country this summer. Trials have shown that it is safe to use, and that it can reduce nausea by two thirds.

Severe sickness

Many women who suffer from severe morning sickness have until now not been able to take any medication to relieve their symptoms. Its most extreme form, hyperemesis gravidarum, which the Duchess of Cambridge experienced, affects two percent of the population. It has been compared to the feelings of sickness caused by chemotherapy, and has even led women to terminate their pregnancy.

Until now, doctors have chosen not to prescribe drugs in the wake of the Thalidomide scandal. Thalidomide was a morning sickness drug, prescribed to pregnant women in the 1950s, which caused defects in foetuses. Approximately 10,000 babies worldwide were born with stunted arms, or no arms at all. It was withdrawn in 1961.

Today, stringent procedures mean that drugs wouldn’t be released onto the market without being thoroughly tested first.

Professor Catherine Nelson-Piercy, a consultant obstetric physician at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, says: ‘Doctors caring for pregnant women in the UK are now able to prescribe Xonvea, affording women in the UK a licensed option when it comes to managing this often debilitating condition.’

Help and support

What are the signs and symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum (HG)? Find out here.

Morning sickness and pregnancy – how the facts differ from what you might have heard.