Antiemetic Prescription Fills in Pregnancy: A Drug Utilization Study Among 762,437 Pregnancies in Norway.

Research paper by Marleen M H J MMHJ van Gelder, Hedvig H Nordeng

Indexed on: 06 Mar '21Published on: 06 Mar '21Published in: Clinical epidemiology


To determine antiemetic prescription fill patterns during pregnancy in Norway, with special focus on the use of ondansetron and recurrent use in subsequent pregnancies. We conducted a population-based registry study based on data from the Medical Birth Registry of Norway linked to the Norwegian Prescription Database for 762,437 pregnancies >12 gestational weeks ending in live or non-live births between 2005 and 2017. Prescription fills of medications used for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy were summarized in treatment pathways to determine drug utilization patterns. Logistic regression analyses were used to estimate associations between maternal and pregnancy characteristics and antiemetic prescription fills. The prescription fill rate for antiemetic medication during pregnancy was 7.6%. However, prescription fill rates were 35.5% in the second pregnancy after filling an antiemetic prescription in the first pregnancy and 53.5% for women who filled antiemetic prescriptions in the previous 2 pregnancies. Among pregnancies with antiemetic prescription fills, 62.2% were dispensed metoclopramide, 28.2% meclizine, and 17.2% promethazine. First-line treatment started with monotherapy in 97.4% of these pregnancies, which was the only treatment received in 78.7%. Prescriptions for ondansetron were filled in 0.3% of pregnancies, with 76.9% being initially filled in the first trimester. Ondansetron as first-line prescription medication and/or use in the first trimester was associated with proxies for more severe nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, including a diagnosis of hyperemesis gravidarum, multiple gestations, a higher obstetric comorbidity index, and concomitant use of medication for gastroesophageal reflux disease and nervous system medications. Women who filled an antiemetic prescription in their first pregnancy were less likely to have subsequent pregnancies than women who did not fill an antiemetic prescription in their first pregnancy (OR 0.93, 95% CI 0.90-0.96). Complex patterns of antiemetic prescription fills in pregnancy may mirror the challenge of optimal management of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy in clinical practice, especially for women with severe symptoms. © 2021 van Gelder and Nordeng.