Misoprostol (Cytotec)


The use of Misoprostol (Cytotec) has crept into British maternity units as this drug is a cheap and attractive (to the clinicians!) method of inducing labour. It can produce horrendous contractions and has resulted in hyperstimulated uterii, maternal and infant death and uterine rupture. It is not licensed in the UK for induction of labour.

The problems with this drug have provoked Searle to issue the following warning, which it sent to all health care practitioners in the United States of America. As the British have not, I presume, made a fuss about this drug, no similar warning has been issued in the UK, to our knowledge. (Drug companies rarely issue health warnings, or specific information about their drugs, unless required to do so by Government regulation or public pressure).

Any woman who is told that she is to have her labour induced should ask for the name of the drug to be used. Any midwife or health practitioner intending to use this drug should give the mother a copy of the Searle warning first. She can then give informed consent to the use of this drug.

AIMS has written to Searle asking for a copy of the package insert and we would be most interested to receive a copy from any source.

The full health warning from Searle is reproduced on this site.

Beverley A Lawrence Beech
Hon Chair, AIMS

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