Cytotec Adverse Event Site

Zorah Oden, mother of Tatia Oden French, has launched a new website for Cytotec awareness, with an email address for anyone to send stories of adverse events from the use of this drug. Tatia and her baby lost their lives when she was induced with Cytotec (without being told anything about the drug), and she suffered an amniotic fluid embolism. Cytotec (miso, misoprostol) is not FDA-approved for this use — nor indeed for any use in pregnancy or inducing labor. Among warnings on the package insert is that it may cause uterine rupture, the need for a hysterectomy, or even the death of the mother or baby.

While some people look favorably upon Cytotec for inductions, I am not one of them — it doesn’t seem to have been tested enough, despite what its supporters say. The risks seem just too great. But to each her own — as long as the woman has been given full information, and been made to understand the risks of this drug, as well as any possible options – if she chooses to take it then, that’s one thing; but many women are not told anything about the drug, including known adverse events.

There are some possible obstetric-related uses for this drug which definitely hold more benefit than risk. Once the baby has been born, the risk of uterine rupture or danger to the baby is nonexistent, so even if it doesn’t work well (and it doesn’t always work — few medications work every time, and I’ve heard numerous stories of miso having little or no effect on, say, postpartum hemorrhage), the risks are minimal. When used for evacuation of the uterus in the case of a miscarriage (i.e., in early pregnancy), the risk of uterine rupture is much lower than in later pregnancy, the baby has already died so there is no risk to him or her, and the risks of alternate options may be worse than the risk of uterine rupture (for instance, the increased risk of infection with retained products of conception, or the risk of infertility from a D&C).

Cytotec is one of those odd drugs which can cause or relieve the same problem. For instance, it may cause retained placenta when given to induce labor; but when given after the baby has been born, may induce the birth of the placenta, instead of having to resort to harsher measures. When given prior to birth, it may lead to postpartum hemorrhage; but it can also cure PPH if given after the birth of the baby. To be perfectly honest, the fact that it can do this bothers me quite a bit — I wonder if the pharmacists, doctors, and other people involved in this medication even understand how it works, and how it can have this “split personality” as it were. There are several other drugs used in gynecology that do this, so it may just be an oddity of the female body and female hormones… but I still don’t like it.

You can click on the tag “cytotec” over in the right-hand side bar to see other posts that talk about this drug. And if you know of an adverse event due to Cytotec (miso, misoprostol), please email it to Zorah French at the email address provided on the website.

One woman suffered a uterine rupture, although she had absolutely no risk factors for it — hadn’t had a uterine surgery, not even any fibroids. When she investigated, on her own, what could have made her uterus rupture without any warning or risk, she came across something that finally mentioned that Cytotec had that possible risk.

Amniotic fluid embolism can happen without drugs; but it is a known risk of Cytotec. It is typically deadly to both mother and baby, although some have survived it.

Uterine hyperstimulation can cause a uterine rupture, which can kill the baby and many times necessitates a hysterectomy to save the life of the mother. This can happen even with an unscarred uterus, but is more common in women who have had uterine surgeries, including C-sections.

Doctors are not required to report adverse events, so the rate and number of “official” adverse events is woefully inadequate (not just this pill, but for other medications as well, including vaccines). It is up to us to report them to each other and to educate each other. They may not be official — just “anecdotal” — but that doesn’t mean they didn’t happen. A common refrain of the stories currently on the Cytotec Adverse Event Site is that of women thinking that what happened to them or their babies was “just one of those things”. It wasn’t for weeks or months afterwards, when they got to the point in their grief and recovery that they had a need to know the details surrounding the loss of baby, uterus, or both, that they investigated and found that they had been given Cytotec. Or, perhaps they knew they had been given it, but didn’t know the adverse events, until they themselves became a statistic.


4 Responses

  1. It makes me both angry and sad that we must question the integrity of doctors, and other professionals, now. From my own experiences to reading your blog, I am always curious now to know if my family’s best interest is at heart, or if the insurance/money is the decision-making factor.

    Just My Thoughts, And Thanks For All Of Your Posts,

  2. Thanks for this great post Im pretty sure that many people are searching informative post like yours .

  3. Interesting article. Can you tell me if Cytotec is safe for a non-pregnant woman if being used to relax the uterus in prep for an endometrial biopsy? What are the side effects?

    • I don’t know, but I would think it would have the opposite effect — to make the uterus contract, not relax, if it does anything for the non-pregnant uterus. Other than the typical side effects which are possible with any medication (headache, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, etc.), Cytotec would seem to be generally safe for non-pregnant women. The biggest danger occurs with a pregnant woman and the risk of uterine rupture. You can read the Cytotec package information here for a full list of known common side effects, etc.

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