House, Senate Agree on Key SMFM-backed Language Assessing Research in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2016– In 2014, the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine began working with the March of Dimes, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics to form the Coalition to Advance Maternal Therapeutics. The Coalition has been working to educate and inform Congress and other policymakers on the issues related to lack of data and information on medications in pregnancy and breastfeeding, recently hosting a congressional briefing on the topic.

In February 2015, SMFM hosted a workshop on the issue of medications in pregnancy and breastfeeding at its annual meeting, which was co-sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The workshop explored the issue of medications used during pregnancy and breastfeeding, with participants agreeing that more research was necessary to ensure that safe and effective drugs are being prescribed to women who need them during pregnancy and lactation.

SMFM, with the CAMT, advocated for the creation of a task force housed within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that will improve federal interagency and key stakeholder communication, coordination and collaboration to advance research and information sharing on medications in pregnancy and breastfeeding.  This Task Force has been included in the bipartisan, negotiated 21st Century Cures Act. The task force will include federal agencies such as National Institutes of Health, U.S. Food & Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as public stakeholders from professional societies, consumer representation and industry representation to prioritize and identify gaps in research and recommend a path forward on greater inclusion of pregnant and breastfeeding women in medication research.

Dr. Mary Norton, president of SMFM, released the following statement:

“We applaud Congress for making the right decision in creating a Task Force on Research in Pregnant Women and Lactating Women in the final 21st Century Cures Act, slated for a vote in the House this week, and hope for swift action by the Senate shortly following. SMFM has been dedicated to moving this important initiative for several years, founding the Coalition to Advance Maternal Therapeutics – whose steering committee includes the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists and March of Dimes, as well as SMFM.

“SMFM would like to especially acknowledge Senator Patty Murray and Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler and Kathy Castor for continuing to lead the efforts to ensure that this language made it into the final legislative package, which has strong bipartisan support.

“More women with chronic diseases are becoming pregnant, yet safe and effective medications to manage these ongoing conditions throughout their pregnancy and beyond are needed. This legislation is a great first step toward greater collaboration and communication among federal agencies and public stakeholders.

“We look forward to ensuring that the work of this task force will inform our members and patients and strongly support this legislation’s passage and seeing President Obama sign it into law.”

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