HIV medication linked to serious birth defects

Pregnant woman holding stomach

by Tom Maling

On 31 May 2018 the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), who is responsible for medication approvals and safety in Australia, issued a safety alert for the drug Dolutegravir, which is used to treat HIV. The drug is also as Tivicay is found in the medication Triumeq.

Unfortunately new research has shown an increased risk of neural tube defects in babies who were conceived while their mothers were taking the medication. Neural tube defects may lead to serious health issues for babies, including Spina Bifida. The TGA alert recommended that doctors do not prescribe female patients who are looking to become pregnant with any medication containing the drug Dolutegravir.

Medication Side Effects

This is another example of serious consequences some medications can have. There are already investigations in the United States for lawsuits against the manufacturer. Doctors in Australia are now on notice of the potential risk and so should have stopped prescribing it to those at risk of harm.

Medications save lives, however when they are incorrectly prescribed the side effects can have serious consequences. Elringtons has unfortunately seen this first hand recently, acting for a person who was rendered a quadriplegic after a medication administration error.  For more information see Elringtons Secures $12million for client. For more information on Medication errors and medical negligence see our article Medications and Medical Negligence.

To help protect yourself from the risk of medication errors here’s some advice taken from our Hospital Negligence page:

In 2018 the Harvard University recommended 7 questions to ask a doctor when they prescribe a new medication. These are:

  1. Why do I need this medication, and how does it work?
  2. What are the risks and benefits?
  3. Are there side effects?
  4. How do I take this medication?
  5. Do I need to avoid anything while taking this new medication?
  6. How soon will the medication work, and how long will I be taking it?
  7. When will you review how well this is working for me?

These are good questions for patients to ask doctors and other health practitioners who administer treatment in hospital.

Be an informed patient. It is your body and you have a right to ask about your treatment.

In doing so, you may prevent a hospital complication, like being administered the wrong medication, from happening.

For further information on the TGA alert see Dolutegravir. To speak to one of our specialist nedical negligence lawyers call 02 6206 1300 or email

e: | p: +61 2 6206 1300

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