PARIS: French regulator ANSM on Tuesday said Sanofi's epilepsy drug valproate should be forbidden during pregnancy and not prescribed to women of child-bearing age.
"Valproate is forbidden during pregnancy and should no longer be prescribed to girls, teenagers and women of child-bearing age unless exceptional circumstances," France's Agence Nationale de Securite du Medicament said in a statement.
Prescribed globally for epilepsy and bipolar disorders - and in some cases migraines - valproate is included in the World's Health Organisation list of essential medicines.
But the drug, manufactured by French drugmaker Sanofi and sold under the brands Depakine, Depakote and Epilim, is also known to have caused birth malfunctions and slow neurological development after being taken during pregnancy.
Officials at Sanofi were not immediately reachable for comment.
(Reporting by Matthias Blamont, Editing by Dominique Vidalon)