A randomized pilot clinical trial of pravastatin versus placebo in pregnant patients at high risk of preeclampsia

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Obstetric-Fetal Pharmacology Research Centers (OPRC) Network, Bethesda, MD

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Background: Preeclampsia remains a major cause of maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. Biologic plausibility, compelling preliminary data, and a pilot clinical trial support the safety and utility of pravastatin for the prevention of preeclampsia. Objective: We previously reported the results of a phase I clinical trial using a low dose (10 mg) of pravastatin in high-risk pregnant women. Here, we report a follow-up, randomized trial of 20 mg pravastatin versus placebo among pregnant women with previous preeclampsia who required delivery before 34+6 weeks’ gestation with the objective of evaluating the safety and pharmacokinetic parameters of pravastatin. Study Design: This was a pilot, multicenter, blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of women with singleton, nonanomalous pregnancies at high risk for preeclampsia. Women between 12+0 and 16+6 weeks of gestation were assigned to receive a daily pravastatin dose of 20 mg or placebo orally until delivery. In addition, steady-state pravastatin pharmacokinetic studies were conducted in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy and at 4 to 6 months postpartum. Primary outcomes included maternal-fetal safety and pharmacokinetic parameters of pravastatin during pregnancy. Secondary outcomes included maternal and umbilical cord blood chemistries and maternal and neonatal outcomes, including rates of preeclampsia and preterm delivery, gestational age at delivery, and birthweight. Results: Of note, 10 women assigned to receive pravastatin and 10 assigned to receive the placebo completed the trial. No significant differences were observed between the 2 groups in the rates of adverse or serious adverse events, congenital anomalies, or maternal and umbilical cord blood chemistries. Headache followed by heartburn and musculoskeletal pain were the most common side effects. We report the pravastatin pharmacokinetic parameters including pravastatin area under the curve (total drug exposure over a dosing interval), apparent oral clearance, half-life, and others during pregnancy and compare it with those values measured during the postpartum period. In the majority of the umbilical cord and maternal samples at the time of delivery, pravastatin concentrations were below the limit of quantification of the assay. The pregnancy and neonatal outcomes were more favorable in the pravastatin group. All newborns passed their brainstem auditory evoked response potential or similar hearing screening tests. The average maximum concentration and area under the curve values were more than 2-fold higher following a daily 20 mg dose compared with a 10 mg daily pravastatin dose, but the apparent oral clearance, half-life, and time to reach maximum concentration were similar, which is consistent with the previously reported linear, dose-independent pharmacokinetics of pravastatin in nonpregnant subjects. Conclusion: This study confirmed the overall safety and favorable pregnancy outcomes for pravastatin in women at high risk for preeclampsia. This favorable risk-benefit analysis justifies a larger clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of pravastatin for the prevention of preeclampsia. Until then, pravastatin use during pregnancy remains investigational.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)666.e1-666.e15
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • angiogenic biomarkers
  • high-risk pregnancy
  • investigational new drug
  • maternal and neonatal morbidity
  • myopathy
  • pharmacokinetics
  • pilot randomized trial
  • pravastatin
  • preeclampsia
  • safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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