Concern over ‘Viagra babies’

Ten UK women are reported to be pregnant following treatment with the male impotence drug Viagra, prescribed by their consultant Dr Mohammed Taranissi. But fertility expert Lord Robert Winston has expressed concerns over what he called a ‘reprehensible and dangerous’ treatment. ‘It is extraordinary that he has been allowed to administer an untested drug to women hoping to conceive, or in the early stages of pregnancy’ he said. He warned that it could cause abnormalities in the same way that the anti-morning sickness drug thalidomide did Viagra-Las-Vegas.

A recent US trial suggested that Viagra could be useful for treating women who have difficulties conceiving due to a thin womb lining. The drug is thought to increase the chances of embryo implantation, by increasing the blood supply to the womb and thickening the lining. Following Lord Winston’s criticisms, Dr Taranissi, of the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre, London, defended his methods. ‘The drug is taken before embryos are implanted and stops on the day embryos are in the body, so there should be no risk to the embryo.’

One of Dr Taranissi’s patients, Sharon Row, is currently six months pregnant with twins. She had been trying for a baby for four years before starting IVF treatment, and said: ‘I’d have tried anything’. Pfizer, the firm that manufactures Viagra, say that it has not been adequately tested in clinical trials involving women and the unborn child. Dr Taranissi said that women should use Viagra in this way only if it is prescribed by a doctor.

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