To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what resources he plans to commit his Department and its agencies to provide to improve patient safety and engage with health professionals to raise awareness of the potential health risks for women of child-bearing age taking Sodium Valproate; and if he will make a statement.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has been working in partnership with the Department, professional bodies and the healthcare system to bring together a package of measures to raise awareness of the significant risks associated with sodium valproate in pregnancy and to support healthcare professionals in reducing the harms from valproate in women of child-bearing age. All parties involved are fully committed to this important work using the existing resources of each relevant organisation.
The new measures include updated educational materials for healthcare professionals and patients and will be communicated through the MHRA bulletin and letters to healthcare professionals through the NHS Central Alerting System. The information cascade will be supported by messages from professional bodies, charities and patient groups to their constituents and reinforced through changes to clinical guidelines and improved alerts on general practitioner prescribing systems.
The effectiveness of the new measures in changing prescribing of valproate will be closely monitored. Relevant data will be published and there will be ongoing follow up to ensure that the harms to the child from valproate in pregnancy are minimised.