The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has welcomed the launch of a new toolkit, aiming to better inform female patients about the risks of taking valproate medicines during pregnancy, and says that it will be encouraging its members to use it.
RPS English Pharmacy Board chair Sandra Gidley says: “We will be urging pharmacists to use the toolkit as a way of facilitating conversations they have with patients about the risks of taking valproate medicines during pregnancy. The RPS will be raising awareness of the toolkit with our members as well as providing them with our new support guidance.” The updated RPS guidance went live on the RPS website on 9 February 2016.
Valproate is a treatment for bipolar disorder and epilepsy and is prescribed to thousands of women in the UK. However, in women who take the drug during their pregnancy, it is associated with a 1 in 10 risk of their baby being born with a birth defect and a 4 in 10 risk of them being born with developmental disorders.
The toolkit, which was launched on 8 February by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), was developed in consultation with a variety of stakeholders, including healthcare professionals and patient groups. It includes a credit card-sized patient card to be issued by pharmacists, booklets for healthcare professionals and patients and a checklist of questions and points to help facilitate discussions with patients about valproate’s risks.