Definition - What does Zofran mean?

Zofran is classified as a 5-HT3 receptor antagonist and helps a patient’s body block the action of serotonin, which is a chemical in the body that can trigger nausea and vomiting. According to medical experts, Zofran successfully counters nausea by limiting the activity of the vagus nerve, which activates the vomiting center in the patient’s medulla oblongata. Zofran was developed by GlaxoSmithKline and has been approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to treat post-operative nausea and vomiting in patients who have recently had surgery or received radiation or chemotherapy treatment.

In 2011, the FDA investigated claims that Zofran users might develop abnormal changes in the electrical activity of their heart and could suffer potentially fatal abnormal heart rhythms if they development a condition known as Torsade de Pointes. The risks were especially high for those with underlying heart conditions or those who were at risk for low levels of potassium and magnesium.

Justipedia explains Zofran

GlaxoSmith Kline was forced to pay $3 billion in 2012 to settle charges with the U.S. Department of Justice that they marketed a number of medications for medical conditions not approved by the FDA, including the marketing of Zofran for the treatment of nausea and vomiting in expectant mothers.

In 2014, the first lawsuit against Zofran was filed in Eastern Pennsylvania by a woman who alleged that her two children were born with severe heart defects due to unapproved Zofran use. As of June 2015, a half dozen more Zofran lawsuits concerning birth defects have been filed in California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana and Texas.

Despite its effectiveness at treating post-operative nausea, the FDA warns that Zofran has not been approved for use by pregnant women to reduce the symptoms of morning sickness, for the treatment of schizophrenia, for the treatment of psychosis resulting from advanced Parkinson's disease, or for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorders.

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