Q: I've heard that Bendectin, the morning-sickness medication that was removed from the market, may be coming back. Is it now considered safe?
A: Bendectin was first marketed in the United States in 1956. In 1983, because of numerous lawsuits claiming that the drug caused birth defects, its producer, Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, voluntarily withdrew Bendectin from the market. After reviewing 30 years of research, however, doctors and scientists now believe that Bendectin poses no detectable risk of birth defects. The medication was and is safe to use, and many women who suffer from unrelieved nausea and resultant dehydration may want to take it to relieve their symptoms.
In its absence, some doctors have treated morning sickness by prescribing the active ingredients in Bendectin--pyroxidene (vitamin B6) and doxylamine succinate (an antihistamine)--both of which are available over the counter. A Canadian company, Duchesnay Inc., currently is manufacturing a Bendectin-like drug called Diclectin and is negotiating with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to market a new drug containing the same active ingredients as Bendectin.