The Lifesaving Drug For Future Mothers: Heat-Stable Carbetocin

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SEATTLE — In developing countries, about 830 women die due to pregnancy or childbirth complications every day. Approximately 70,000 mothers die each year due to fatal bleeding alone.

Maternal mortality is a major issue across the globe; however, incidents related to this issue are dwindling because international organizations and pharmaceutical companies are helping and supporting future mothers. The World Health Organization (WHO) has played a monumental role in this fight; between 1990 and 2015, the mortality rate of mothers has decreased by 44 percent due to the hard work of the WHO and other international organizations.

WHO has plans to further reduce the ratio of deaths to childbirths; it hopes to lower the number to 70 deaths per 100,000 childbirths. These plans could come to fruition as a result of revolutionary changes within the public health sector.

The World Health Organization, MSD for Mothers and Ferring Pharmaceuticals have collaborated on the creation of an updated, lifesaving drug for future mothers called heat-stable carbetocin. The new drug will prevent excessive bleeding after childbirth, which could save a multitude of mothers’ lives each day. It could also increase the baby’s chance of survival.

What Makes Heat-Stable Carbetocin Different?

The most significant difference between heat-stable carbetocin and existing drugs on the market is that carbetocin can withstand severe heat and tropical weather. Many developing nations are in regions that face extreme heat; therefore, this feature of the drug is necessary in many parts of the world. The drug can also be used up to 1,000 days after manufacture, which means that the drug can be stored in bulk and utilized years in the future if necessary.

Oxytocin is the leading drug currently used to prevent excess bleeding, yet it does not have the same efficient characteristics of heat-stable carbetocin. Oxytocin must be stored and used between two and eight degrees of its manufacture temperature, which can prove to be impossible in developing countries.

Heat-stable carbetocin is immune to humidity, which makes its use much easier and more effective across the globe. The WHO has reported on the exact advantages of heat-stable carbetocin; it states that the revamped formulation does not require refrigeration, and that it maintains its effectiveness for three years at 30 degrees Celsius and 75 percent relative humidity.

The WHO conducted a trial with 30,000 women in which it compared the effects of the drugs across several nations in a controlled experiment. Heat-stable carbetocin was found to be just as effective as oxytocin in preventing postpartum hemorrhage.

Expanding Access to Heat-Stable Carbetocin Will Save More Lives

This lifesaving drug for mothers and their babies will help decrease the ratio of deaths to childbirths, and it can help women worldwide. This is a great step for mothers, as potentially thousands will be saved. The revamped drug will be available for broader use at the beginning of next year.

Fortunately, the world is on the path to truly improving pregnancy and childbirth complications. These aspirations started with a plan, and resulted in the creation of a drug that will decrease the probability of women dying from postpartum hemorrhage. Hopefully, there will be more advancements within this public health sector so that someday the number of deaths can be close to zero.

– Diana Hallisey
Photo: Google

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