Pharmaceutical

Viagra being studied in pregnant women; is it safe?

Viagra single pack Viagra being studied in pregnant women; is it safe?Researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) have conducted an initial trial of Viagra as a treatment for early intrauterine growth restriction, according to Counsel and Heal. In this rare condition, the placenta does not supply enough nutrients to the fetus which results in premature delivery or stillbirth. Treatment options for this condition are limited.

Scientists wondered if sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, which works by increasing blood flow, might be able to increase the flow of nutrients to the fetus. According to Dr. Kenneth Lim of B.C. Women’s Hospital, the results of the small initial study were promising and researchers are now looking for participants from across Canada for the next larger trial, which has already been approved by Health Canada.

In addition to this research, scientists in the UK and in New Zealand are conducting similar studies. When all the research is completed the data will be consolidated.

Sildenafil increases blood flow by inhibiting the action of the enzyme phosphodiesterase type-5. This relaxes blood vessels, which increases blood flow. Unfortunately, there are other results to inhibiting PDE-5. Scientists all over the world have been researching a link between sildenafil and melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. In March 2016, German biochemists published results of their experiments with animals and human cell cultures in Science Daily.

“We have discovered that the cells of malignant melanoma also use the cGMP signaling pathway for their growth,” says Professor Robert Feil of the University of Tübingen. As a result of sildenafil blocking PDE5 and opening up the cGMP pathway unhindered, the researchers found that “the melanoma begins to grow more vigorously.”

Many Viagra users are suing Pfizer, the drug’s maker. According to Law360, the master complaint in the consolidated multidistrict litigation reads, “As a direct, proximate and legal result of Pfizer’s negligence and wrongful conduct, and the unreasonably dangerous and defective characteristics of the drug Viagra, individual plaintiffs suffered severe and permanent physical and emotional injuries. These physical injuries have included melanoma as well as the resulting treatment and surgeries necessitated by the skin cancer diagnosis.”

It will remain to be seen if women in the Viagra study face similar risks from sildenafil.

Sources:
Counsel and Heal
Righting Injustice
Righting Injustice