Skip to Main Content

Coronavirus Medicine Could Cause Birth Defects

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has caused dramatic disruption in everyone’s lives. As doctors race for a vaccine, they have also begun testing different medications already on the market to see whether they are effective at speeding up recovery from the virus. Controversy remains over certain medications, such as hydroxychloroquine. However, another drug that has received attention carries a potential side-effect: birth defects.

At our law firm, we help patients injured by negligent doctors. During this difficult time, many novel treatments are being used to combat the coronavirus, but our clients deserve the same quality care that they have come to expect from medical professionals.

Same Birth Defects as a Drug from the 1950s

The antiviral that has caused a stir in Japan goes by the name Avigan, and it is currently being pushed by that country’s Prime Minister. As the New York Times notes, there is no solid evidence that the drug works on humans with the novel coronavirus. Some animal studies have shown promise treating Ebola, but that is about it. The generic name for the drug is favipiravir.

The lack of evidence has not slowed enthusiasm for the drug. Japan bought large quantities and is funding other studies to check whether the drug is effective against COVID-19. Thus far, the only positive evidence has been anecdotal.

As the New York Times reports, this drug also carries the risk of birth defects. Studies in animals showed the propensity to cause birth defects, much like a similar drug thalidomide does. That drug was responsible for thousands of deformities in the 1950s and 1960s. Prescribed to treat morning sickness in pregnant women, thalidomide ended up causing defects such as deformed limbs and organs.

Protecting Pregnant Mothers & Children

The U.S. has not given the green light for use of favipiravir to treat COVID-19, but this does not mean that expectant mothers should not be on guard. If you are diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, listen closely to any medication your doctor prescribes. Some doctors are using drugs experimentally. Also tell your doctor if you suspect that you are pregnant, which should influence the drugs given, and always ask to have side effects identified.

At Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein LLP, our medical malpractice team has brought numerous claims for compensation when medical errors cause birth defects. If you have a question, please contact us today to schedule a free consultation. You can reach us at 305-371-2692.