Supplying valproate safely to women and girls

31 May 2022

Help to make sure sodium valproate is dispensed safely to women and girls

A recent article in the BMJ (Sodium valproate continues to be prescribed in hundreds of pregnancies, data show) revealed that women are still being prescribed and dispensed sodium valproate, a treatment for epilepsy and bipolar disorder, without being informed about the potential risks. Children born to women who were taking the drug whilst pregnant have significantly increased risk of birth defects and developmental disorders.

Pharmacy professionals play a key role in supplying valproate safely. Every time sodium valproate is dispensed to a woman or girl able to have a child, you need to follow the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) Pregnancy Prevention Plan (PPP).

When valproate is dispensed, women and girls should expect:

  • to be provided with a Patient Card every time they receive Valproate
  • 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

All members of the pharmacy team should make sure they follow the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) Pregnancy Prevention Plan (PPP) every time they dispense sodium valproate.

More information and resources for you and your pharmacy team

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