Sick mums-to-be hit with $7000 bill to ease pregnancy pain

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WOMEN who suffer an extreme reaction to pregnancy are paying up to $7000 for a drug not yet approved for use by expectant mums because they are desperate to control their illness.

Obstetricians are prescribing the anti-nausea drug Zofran ... to women who suffer hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), which can result in severe nausea, dehydration and fatigue.

But because the drug's manufacturer has not sought approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration to have it used or subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for pregnancy sickness, it costs $8 per pill.

Up to 3 per cent of pregnant women ... suffer the condition ...

Sufferers are usually hospitalised several times, and some women are terminating pregnancies because they can't cope with the effects.

... Zofran was often the only drug that provided any relief.

"We are not talking about women who have a little bit of morning sickness," Dr Ferry said.

"These women are seriously ill, they are vomiting almost constantly, they are bedridden and unable to function."

... Zofran ... is listed on the PBS for use by cancer patients to treat vomiting associated with chemotherapy.

... the drug had not been considered for listing on the PBS for pregnant women as the Therapeutic Goods Administration had not listed treatment of the condition as one of the drug's intended uses.

A spokeswoman from GlaxoSmithKline said treatment of any pregnancy-related nausea was not one of the intended uses.

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448