[Use of calcium channel blockers (CCB) for tocolysis in France and abroad]

J Gynecol Obstet Biol Reprod (Paris). 2015 Apr;44(4):312-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jgyn.2014.12.016. Epub 2015 Feb 26.
[Article in French]


Objectives: Calcium channel blockers (CCB) are routinely off-label used for tocolysis. The purpose of this study is to establish an inventory of the use of CCB for tocolysis in France and abroad.

Materials and methods: Four complementary approaches were performed: (i) a literature review of clinical practice and guidelines of scientific societies; (ii) a national declarative practice survey among French tertiary care centers; (iii) a regional declarative practice survey among all maternities of the Midi-Pyrénées Perinatal Network (MATERMIP); (iv) an evaluation of outpatient tocolysis prescription, analyzing the departmental database EFEMERIS in order to examine drug prescribing during pregnancy.

Results: CCB appear to be currently used as first-line, initial tocolysis, in the majority of French maternity hospitals (82.5% of tertiary care centers). Oral Nifedipine is the predominant regimen (86%). CCB utilization rates appear higher than those reported in 2005 in the EVAPRIMA study. Beta-agonists appear rarely prescribed in 1st line (poor maternal tolerance) and even abandoned by many institutions (75% of tertiary care centers). Using a maintenance tocolysis (usually by long-acting CCB) seems to vary depending on the hospitals. It would be prescribed in more than 50% of cases (and probably more in type 1 or 2 hospitals), despite the lack of demonstrated benefit. Furthermore, we can estimate that about 1.5 to 2% of outpatient pregnant women receive a prescription of Nifedipine LP in France.

Conclusion: CCB (especially Nifedipine) are widely used in the treatment of threatened preterm labor in France, regardless of the type of hospital. The terms of off-label prescribing are not met.

Keywords: Calcium channel blockers; Enquête de pratique; Guidelines; Inhibiteurs calciques; Menace d’accouchement prématuré; Practice survey; Recommandations; Threatened preterm labour; Tocolyse; Tocolysis.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • France
  • Hospitals, Maternity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Nifedipine / therapeutic use*
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / drug therapy*
  • Off-Label Use / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Tocolysis / statistics & numerical data*


  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Nifedipine