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      Timilehin EburuTimilehin Eburu

      FDA Drug Safety Communication

      The U.S. FDA is requesting removal of its contraindication against using cholesterol-lowering statins in pregnant patients. However, the agency still advises most patients should stop statins once they learn they are pregnant.

      A contraindication is FDA’s strongest warning and is only added when a medicine should not be used because the risk clearly outweighs any possible benefit. Because the benefits of statins may include prevention of serious or potentially fatal events in a small group of very high-risk pregnant patients, contraindicating these drugs in all pregnant women is not appropriate.

      FDA expects removing the contraindication will enable health care professionals and patients to make individual decisions about benefit and risk, especially for those at very high risk of heart attack or stroke. This includes patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia and those who have previously had a heart attack or stroke.

      Breastfeeding not recommended in patients who require statins

      Patients should not breastfeed when taking a statin because the medicine may pass into breast milk and pose a risk to the baby. Many can stop statins temporarily until breastfeeding ends. However, patients requiring ongoing statin treatment should not breastfeed and instead use infant formula or other alternatives.


      Health care professionals should discontinue statin therapy in most pregnant patients, or they can consider the ongoing therapeutic needs of the individual patient, particularly those at very high risk for cardiovascular events during pregnancy. Because of the chronic nature of cardiovascular disease, treatment of hyperlipidemia is not generally necessary during pregnancy. Discuss with patients whether they may discontinue statins temporarily while breastfeeding. Advise those who require a statin because of their cardiovascular risk that breastfeeding is not recommended because the medicine may pass into breast milk.

      We hope the revised language in the prescribing information will help reassure health care professionals that statins are safe to prescribe in patients who can become pregnant, and help them reassure patients with unintended statin exposure in early pregnancy or before pregnancy is recognized that the medicine is unlikely to harm the unborn baby


      FDA Drug Safety Communication, July 20, 2021

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