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Description of key information

No increased risk of malformations was concluded in epidemiological studies from more than 800 patients (pregnant women) which were exposed to read-across substance Docusate sodium (or other salts) as pharmaceutical, mainly used during the first trimester of pregnancy. Various publications pointed out the same conclusion, and was considered to be reliable and extensive. Further, in the Adverse Drug Reaction database from EMA (up to May 2021), a total of 933 Adverse Drug reactions (ADRs) were reported, however for pregnancy, puerperium and perinatal conditions, only 26 ADRs were reported of which 5 were considered serious. The serious cases were most likely not due to Docusate sodium, but to other comedication.


 


More details are available in the 'Literature summary document on the use and ADRs of Docusate sodium or other salts' attached to this summary endpoint or in the various endpoint records attached under sections 7.10.1, 7.10.2 and 7.10.5.

Additional information

Based on ECHA request for prenatal development evaluation in a second species; human data of Docusate (sodium) used during pregnancy were investigated. According to the ECHA Guidance on Information Requirements (Chapter R.7a: Endpoint specific guidance Version 6.0 - July 2017), human data on reproductive and developmental toxicity can be used, either based on epidemiological data/studies, case reports and clinical data. As Docusate (sodium) has been used extensively as pharmaceutical agent or ingredient, testing in a second species (e.g. mouse as proposed by ECHA as an alternative to rabbit) was considered not ethically feasible. Therefore a waiver for a second species was justified based on available data that have been entered under Section 7.10 Health surveillance data, epidemiological data and exposure related observations in humans. A summary is provided below, whereas the more detailed endpoints are available in Sections 7.10 (1/2/5).

Various epidemiological data are available in literature for Docusate sodium use by pregnant women, of which a smaller group was exposed anytime (N = 116) during pregnancy, whereas most were exposed in the first trimester of pregnancy. However, two publications used the same data, one including pregnancies with life births only and the other all pregnancies. A corrected total of 821 pregnant women (705 during first trimester) exposed to Docusate (sodium) was derived. In total, the first trimester was therefore studied in a group of >700, for which no increased risk of malformations was reported (incidence = 0.2 - 3.9%). An overview of literature studies and No. of pregnant women is provided below. The studies summarised were considered to be reliable (Klimisch 2).

-      N = 116 anytime during pregnancy (Prospective): No increased risk of malformations (Heinonen et al., 1977)

-      N = 473 during first trimester (Surveillance): No increased risk of malformations (1/473 = 2%) (Jick et al., 1981) #, *

-      N = 319 during first trimester (Surveillance): No increased risk of malformations (3/319 = 0.9%) (Aselton et al., 1985) #, **

-      N = 232 during first trimester (Surveillance): no increased risk of malformations (9/232 = 3.9%) (Briggs et al., 2011) §

Total = 1140 (1024 during first trimester) Corrected = 821 (705 during first trimester)

# Studied Based on GHC (Group Health Cooperative) of 6,837 pregnant women

* Drugs Prescrobed During the First Trimester of Pregnancy to at Least 200 of 6,837 Pregnant Women

** Drugs Prescribed During the First Trimester of Pregnancy to at Least 200 of 6,509 Women Having Live Births Studied

§ In a surveillance study of Michigan Medicaid recipients involving 229,101 completed pregnancies conducted between 1985 and 1992, 232 newborns had been exposed to a docusate salt during the 1st trimester (F. Rosa, personal communication, FDA, 1993). Nine (3.9%) major birth defects were observed (nine expected), including one cardiovascular defect (two expected) and one polydactyly (one expected). No anomalies were observed in four other categories of defects (oral clefts, spina bifida, limb reduction defects, and hypospadias) for which specific data were available. These data do not support an association between the drug and congenital defects.

Docusate (sodium) still seems amongst the most commonly used over-the-counter medication components (Drugs.com; Shafe et al., 2011). Doses in pregnant women vary from 50 to 500 mg/day orally in one to four divided doses or 0.12 g rectally as active docusate sodium in a 10 g enema gel. Most frequently used as docusate salts, sodium docusate and calcium docusate, although other forms are available (Rungsiprakarn et al., 2015). Docusate has not been formally assigned to a pregnancy category by the FDA (Drugs.com).

Docusate sodium is available under multiple brand names. In order to prevent and treat chronic constipation or as an adjunct in abdominal radiological procedures, Docusate sodium should be taken up by adults (p.o.) up to 500 mg daily in divided doses. Treatment should be commenced with large doses, which should be decreased as the condition of the patient improves. According to the FDA inactive ingredient list (2021), Docusate sodium is listed up to a maximum daily exposure of 50 mg for oral use. In the Adverse Drug Reaction database from EMA (2021), a total of 933 ADRs were reported (May/2021). However, for pregnancy, puerperium and perinatal conditions, only 26 ADRs were reported of which 5 were considered serious. The serious cases were most likely not due to Docusate sodium, but to other comedication.

Conclusion

No increased risk of malformations was concluded in epidemiological studies from more than 800 patients (pregnant women) which were available for Docusate sodium (or other salts) as pharmaceutical, mainly used during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Further exploration of literature and databases (e.g. FDA Inactive Ingredient List, EMA Adverse Drug Reaction database) confirmed that Docusate sodium is available as active ingredient under multiple brand names up to 500 mg daily by oral application, and as inactive ingredient up to a maximum daily exposure of 50 mg for oral use. In the Adverse Drug Reaction database from EMA (2021), a total of 933 Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs) were reported, however for pregnancy, puerperium and perinatal conditions, only 26 ADRs were reported of which 5 were considered serious. The serious cases were most likely not due to Docusate sodium, but to other comedication. No further testing is considered needed based on these data.