Working in collaboration with the NHS England and NHS Improvement Valproate Safety Implementation Group (VSIG), we’ve developed a set of prescribing indicators to track the use of valproate medicines among women of childbearing potential (WCP).
For the purposes of these comparators, WCP are interpreted as females between the ages of 13 and 54 years. Information is also provided on valproate prescribing for girls between the ages of 0 and 12 who may continue treatment in later years.
Valproate prescribing in pregnancy has shown to increase the risk of physical birth defects and neurodevelopmental disorders in unborn babies. Guidance from MHRA suggests that valproate should not be used in WCP unless other treatments are ineffective or not tolerated.
What the indicators are for
The indicators identify the number of WCP who are receiving valproate medication. The data can be used to analyse prescribing patterns, to support a reduction in the use of valproate in WCP, and to help prevent unplanned pregnancies in women taking valproate.
5 indicators have been developed:
- VPA1: Female patients prescribed valproate per 1,000 population.
- VPA2: Female patients prescribed valproate as a proportion of all patients prescribed valproate.
- VPA3: Female patients prescribed valproate.
- VPA4: Female patients starting valproate.
- VPA5: Female patients resuming valproate.
These comparators are displayed for Sub Integrated Care Board Locations (SICBLs) (previously CCGs), NHS Regions and at National level.
This data will be produced every month to contribute to the monitoring of the effectiveness of actions to ensure safe and appropriate use of valproate. For more information, view the GOV.UK toolkit on the risks of valproate medicines in female patients.
If you're registered, you can access the valproate safety dashboard through ePACT2.
If you're not registered for ePACT2, you can view the indicators through the Catalyst - public insight portal.
Valproate safety indicators specification (Word: 102KB)
Valproate safety dashboard drug list (Excel: 15KB)
NHS Digital Medicines in Pregnancy Registry
The data released in this dashboard is similar to the information contained in the Medicines in pregnancy registry report, recently released by NHS Digital. However, this dashboard is designed to support improvement work, providing regular updates on local usage and indicators which facilitate comparison between different organisations and geographies.
The methodology used by NHS Digital differs slightly from that used in this dashboard, so there may be some differences in the items reported.