Review of New Drugs That May Be Used During Pregnancy

Gerald G. Briggs, BPharm, FCCP

April 27, 2022

In 2021, the Food and Drug Administration approved 50 new drugs, but 24 will not be described here because they would probably not be used in pregnancy. The 24 are Aduhelm (aducanumab) to treat Alzheimer’s disease; Azstarys (serdexmethylphenidate and dexmethylphenidate), a combination CNS stimulant indicated for the treatment of ADHD; Cabenuva (cabotegravir and rilpivirine) to treat HIV; Voxzogo (vosoritide) for children with achondroplasia and open epiphyses; Qelbree (viloxazine) used in children aged 6-17 years to treat ADHD; and Pylarify (piflufolastat) for prostate cancer. Other anticancer drugs that will not be covered are Cosela (trilaciclib), Cytalux (pafolacianine), Exkivity (mobocertinib); Fotivda (tivozanib), Jemperli (dostarlimab-gxly), Lumakras (sotorasib), Pepaxto (melphalan flufenamide), Rybrevant (amivantamab-vmjw), Rylaze (asparaginase erwinia chrysanthemi), Scemblix (asciminib), Tepmetko (tepotinib), Tivdak (tisotumab vedotin-tftv), Truseltiq (infigratinib), Ukoniq (umbralisib), and Zynlonta (loncastuximab tesirine-lpyl).

Skytrofa (lonapegsomatropin-tcgd) will not be described below because it is indicated to treat short stature and is unlikely to be used in pregnancy. Nextstellis (drospirenone and estetrol) is used to prevent pregnancy.

Typically, for new drugs there will be no published reports describing their use in pregnant women. That information will come much later. In the sections below, the indications, effects on pregnant animals, and the potential for harm of a fetus/embryo are described. However, the relevance of animal data to human pregnancies is not great.

Adbry (tralokinumab) (molecular weight [MW], 147 kilodaltons), is indicated for the treatment of moderate to severe atopic dermatitis in adult patients whose disease is not adequately controlled with topical prescription therapies or when those therapies are not advisable. The drug did not harm fetal monkeys at doses that were 10 times the maximum recommended human dose.

Besremi (ropeginterferon alfa-2b-njft) (MW, 60 kDa) is an interferon alfa-2b indicated for the treatment of adults with polycythemia vera. It is given by subcutaneous injection every 2 weeks. Animal studies assessing reproductive toxicity have not been conducted. The manufacturer states that the drug may cause fetal harm and should be assumed to have abortifacient potential.

Brexafemme (ibrexafungerp) (MW, 922) is indicated for the treatment of vulvovaginal candidiasis. The drug was teratogenic in pregnant rabbits but not in pregnant rats. The manufacturer recommends females with reproductive potential should use effective contraception during treatment and for 4 days after the final dose.

Bylvay (odevixibat) (MW unknown) is indicated for the treatment of pruritus in patients aged 3 months and older. There are no human data regarding its use in pregnant women. The drug was teratogenic in pregnant rabbits. Although there are no data, the drug has low absorption following oral administration and breastfeeding is not expected to result in exposure of the infant.

Empaveli (pegcetacoplan) (MW, 44 kDa) is used to treat paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria. When the drug was given to pregnant cynomolgus monkeys there was an increase in abortions and stillbirths.

Evkeeza (evinacumab-dgnb) (MW, 146k) is used to treat homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia. The drug was teratogenic in rabbits but not rats.

Fexinidazole (MW not specified) is indicated to treat human African trypanosomiasis caused by the parasite Trypanosoma brucei gambiense. Additional information not available.

Kerendia (finerenone) (MW, 378), is indicated to reduce the risk of kidney and heart complications in chronic kidney disease associated with type 2 diabetes. The drug was teratogenic in rats.

Korsuva (difelikefalin) (MW, 679) is a kappa opioid–receptor agonist indicated for the treatment of moderate to severe pruritus associated with chronic kidney disease in adults undergoing hemodialysis. No adverse effects were observed in pregnant rats and rabbits. The limited human data on use of Korsuva in pregnant women are not sufficient to evaluate a drug associated risk for major birth defects or miscarriage.

Leqvio (inclisiran) (MW, 17,285) is indicated to treat heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia or clinical atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease as an add-on therapy. The drug was not teratogenic in rats and rabbits.

Livmarli (maralixibat) (MW, 710) is indicated for the treatment of cholestatic pruritus associated with Alagille syndrome. Because systemic absorption is low, the recommended clinical dose is not expected to result in measurable fetal exposure. No effects on fetal rats were observed.

Livtencity (maribavir) (MW, 376) is used to treat posttransplant cytomegalovirus infection that has not responded to other treatment. Embryo/fetal survival was reduced in rats but not in rabbits at doses less then the human dose.

Lupkynis (voclosporin) (MW, 1,215) is used to treat nephritis. Avoid use of Lupkynis in pregnant women because of the alcohol content of the drug formulation. The drug was embryocidal and feticidal in rats and rabbits but with no treatment-related fetal malformations or variations.

Lybalvi (olanzapine and samidorphan) (MW, 312 and 505) is a combination drug used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It was fetal toxic in pregnant rats and rabbits but with no evidence of malformations. There is a pregnancy exposure registry that monitors pregnancy outcomes in women exposed to atypical antipsychotics, including this drug, during pregnancy. Health care providers are encouraged to register patients by contacting the National Pregnancy Registry for Atypical Antipsychotics at 1-866-961-2388 or visit the Reproductive Psychiatry Resource and Information Center of the MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health.

Nexviazyme (avalglucosidase alfa-ngpt) (MW, 124k) is a hydrolytic lysosomal glycogen-specific enzyme indicated for the treatment of patients aged 1 year and older with late-onset Pompe disease. The drug was not teratogenic in mice and rabbits.

Nulibry (fosdenopterin) (MW, 480) is used to reduce the risk of mortality in molybdenum cofactor deficiency type A. Studies have not been conducted in pregnant animals.

Ponvory (ponesimod) (MW, 461) is used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. The drug caused severe adverse effects in pregnant rats and rabbits.

Qulipta (atogepant) (MW, 604) is indicated to prevent episodic migraines. It is embryo/fetal toxic in rats and rabbits.

Saphnelo (anifrolumab-fnia) (MW, 148k) is used to treat moderate to severe systemic lupus erythematosus along with standard therapy. In pregnant cynomolgus monkeys, there was no evidence of embryotoxicity or fetal malformations with exposures up to approximately 28 times the exposure at the maximum recommended human dose.

Tavneos (avacopan) (MW, 582) is indicated to treat severe active antineutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody–associated vasculitis in combination with standard therapy including glucocorticoids. There appears to be an increased risk for hepatotoxicity. The drug caused no defects in hamsters and rabbits, but in rabbits there was an increase in abortions.

Tezspire (tezepelumab-ekko) (MW, 147k) is indicated to treat severe asthma as an add-on maintenance therapy. No adverse fetal effects were observed in pregnant cynomolgus monkeys.

Verquvo (vericiguat) (MW, 426) is used to mitigate the risk of cardiovascular death and hospitalization for chronic heart failure. The drug was teratogenic in pregnant rabbits but not rats.

Vyvgart (efgartigimod alfa-fcab) (MW, 54k) is indicated to treat generalized myasthenia gravis. The drug did not cause birth defects in rats and rabbits.

Welireg (belzutifan) (MW, 383) is used to treat von Hippel–Lindau disease. In pregnant rats, the drug caused embryo-fetal lethality, reduced fetal body weight, and caused fetal skeletal malformations at maternal exposures of at least 0.2 times the human exposures.

Zegalogue (dasiglucagon) (MW, 3,382) is used to treat severe hypoglycemia. The drug did not cause birth defects in pregnant rats and rabbits.


It is not known if the above drugs will be in breast milk, but the safest course for an infant is to not breast feed if the mother is taking any of the above drugs.

Briggs is clinical professor of pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco, and adjunct professor of pharmacy at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, as well as at Washington State University, Spokane. Briggs said he had no relevant financial disclosures. Email him at

This article originally appeared on, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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