Study Calls Kim K.-Endorsed Morning Sickness Drug Into Question

Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
If morning sickness is a concern of yours right now, you’re likely aware of the drug, Diclegis. Kim K. put it on the map in 2015 when she praised it while pregnant with Saint (and she initially failed to mention one of its side effects when she posted about it), and Emily Maynard Johnson, former Bachelor contestant, talked about it a bit in an interview we did with her last year. But according to The Washington Post, the reason it’s in the news now is because the drug’s efficacy is being questioned. “For more than 40 years, pregnant women around the world sought help for morning sickness through a combination of the two main ingredients in Diclegis: pyridoxine and doxylamine,” The Post reports. Numerous health agencies and obstetricians have stood behind this drug, and approximately 35 million women have taken it, but a new study suggests its effects may not be so significant, after all.
An analysis published in PLOS One on Wednesday by Toronto researchers gives the drug a closer look. The information comes from a clinical trial done in the 1970s that had been under the radar to the general public until recently, but was a major piece of the drug's approval, according to The Post. The main author of the analysis, Nav Persaud, MD, a researcher and family physician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Canada first took interest in this drug (which is sold as Diclectic in Canada) when a patient asked him whether it was a good idea to take it. “After she left, I was a little bit unsettled by the conversation,” Dr. Persaud told The Post. He had trouble finding basic information about the drug, and it took him years to try to answer the questions he had. In the end, he told The Post, he “found no good reason to prescribe this medication over others,” and so he no longer does.
The trial, conducted by Merrell-National Laboratories (which doesn’t exist anymore), had looked at 2,308 patients at 14 clinics in the U.S. in the first three months of pregnancy who had complained of morning sickness. The study, according to Dr. Persaud, was never finished and had “unusual and striking problems.”
Dr. Persaud is asking Health Canada, the FDA, and medical groups that are responsible for issuing clinical practice guidelines to do their own reviews on this drug to measure its effectiveness.
These new results are especially concerning because Diclegis has become the go-to drug treatment option for patients with morning sickness. But there are other lifestyle changes you can make and drugs you can take — so if Diclegis isn't working for you, check in with your doctor.

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