Dutch Women Viagra Tragedy: 11 of 93 Babies Die in Drug Trial

A hospital in Amsterdam said it is immediately stopping a drug trial where pregnant moms were given sildenafil to help with underdeveloped babies. Eleven of the babies in the trial died

Now about a dozen women in the study are still waiting to see how their babies will be affected, or even survive.

The study was initiated in 2015, and conducted at 11 hospitals across the Netherlands. Since the drug is no longer under patent, scientists have been keen to explore other uses for the drug.

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Nine babies from the placebo group of 90 women died. It said researchers expected all such usage of the drug to be stopped and that further research should examine the effects and safety of the substance when used in pregnancy. British researchers who were part of the same global collaboration as the Dutch and Canadians reported that sildenafil "did not prolong pregnancy, improve survival, or reduce short-term neonatal morbidity".

Although there is nothing to suggest the link between the trial and the deaths, the speculation is that the children died since Viagra caused high blood pressure in the lungs. Of the babies born to women who received sildenafil, 17 developed lung problems, and 11 of those have died. The trial was testing the use of the pharmaceutical sildenafil in assisting placenta growth.

A Dutch medical trial in which pregnant women were given Viagra has been halted due to a wave of infant deaths.

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Viagra is typically prescribed to men with erectile dysfunction, and experts hypothesized that the drug's ability to dilate blood vessels would improve the performance of the placentas in pregnant women. "The researchers expect that the use of sildenafil for this application will stop worldwide".

About 15 mothers in the drug trial group have yet to give birth.

"The Principle Investigators at the Amsterdam University Medical Centre have confirmed a non-Pfizer manufactured generic version of sildenafil was used but that no clinical trial participants were administered Viagra, Pfizer sildenafil or any other Pfizer medicine", the statement said. That poses a hard dilemma for doctors: Inducing birth too early increases the risk of complications, but waiting too long could lead to developmental anomalies or stillbirth. In 2012, they started an initiative to conduct five separate but very similar trials that would culminate in a meta-analysis.

Low birth weight contributes to 60-80 percent of neonatal deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

A joint Australian-New Zealand team whose results from a similar trial were presented at a recent meeting didn't find any benefits either, but also didn't see complications, says study leader Katie Groom of the University of Auckland in New Zealand. We contacted the one Canadian woman who was now in the trial, directing her to stop taking the drug or placebo.

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