Inclusion of pregnant women in antiretroviral drug research: what is needed to move forwards?
To adequately ascertain drug safety and efficacy, drug trials need to include participants from all groups likely to receive the medication following approval. Pregnant women, however, are mostly excluded from trials, and women participating are often required to use highly effective contraception and taken off study product (even off study) if they conceive.
There is little commercial incentive for including pregnant women in clinical trials, even when preclinical animal and human pharmacokinetic and safety data appear reassuring. With this conservative approach, large numbers of pregnant women are exposed to drug post-licensing with little known about drug safety and efficacy, and little done to systematically monitor outcomes of pregnancy exposure. The article focuses on antiretrovirals for treating and preventing HIV and presents potential approaches which could extend to other therapeutic areas, to obtaining adequate and timely data to inform use of these drugs in this population.