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Monday, 17 November 2008 19:56
The drug cyotec (misoprostol) is gaining much attention in the birthing community. Originally approved by the FDA for the treatment of ulcers, cyotec is being used "off label" as a quick, inexpensive way to induce labor. Although there is great zeal for it ability to soften a woman's cervix and speed up the delivery process, there is growing concern about its life-threatening side effects.

Searle, the manufacturers of this drug have specific warnings in their package inserts. "Uterine rupture has been reported when cyotec was administered intravaginally in pregnant women to induce labor." 1 One national magazine did an article on the use of cyotec citing cases of uterine hemorrhage leading to hysterectomy, maternal death and even fetal death. 2

Marsden Wagner, MD, a neonatologist and perinatal epidemiologist. wrote an outstanding article on the misuse of cyotec in Midwifery Today, Issue 49, 1999. 3 Although he includes "testimonials" from cyotec advocates in the birthing community, Dr. Wagner strongly cautions about the potential dangers of its unintended use for induction. His article offers critical review of the published studies on the use of cyotec and cites significant weaknesses in their approaches and findings.

Because of the published protocols in ob/gyn journals for the use of cyotec in induction and the popularity this drug is gaining in the ob/gyn circles, we can expect an increase in its use. It is my suggestion that you visit the web addresses below and print out copies of this information for your patients' education. Once again, if we don't tell them, who will?

  1. The Cyotec label (In Adobe Acrobat Format)

  2. Forced Labor: Why are obstetricians speeding deliveries with an ulcer drug that endangers mothers and their babies?

  3. Misoprostol (Cytotec) for Labor Induction: A Cautionary Tale