Monday, October 09, 2006


From Reuters:
A cheap drug that prevents bleeding after childbirth could help save the lives of thousands of women in poor countries, researchers said on Friday.

A study in rural India showed the drug misoprostol, which is manufactured by Pfizer under the brand name Cytotec, is an effective way to prevent bleeding.

"We have proven that misoprostol is a convenient, inexpensive, safe and effective drug to lessen a major cause of death of women in the developing world -- postpartum haemorrhage," Dr Nancy Moss, of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in the United States, said in a statement.

Misoprostol is a pill which does not need to be refrigerated and costs about 14 cents a tablet.

Haemorrhaging is a leading cause of maternal death in the developing world where more than half a million women die each year during labour, delivery or shortly after giving birth...

The drug oxytocin, which causes the uterus to contract, is the standard treatment to prevent excessive bleeding after childbirth in developed countries.

But the drug is not suitable for use in many poor nations because it must be kept cold and be given by trained medical staff.

Moss and an American team ... compared the impact of misoprostol with a placebo on 1,620 pregnant women.

The women were randomly divided to receive the drug in 3 tablets after birth or a placebo.

"Only 6.4 percent of the women receiving misoprostol experienced acute postpartum haemorrhage, compared with 12 percent in the placebo group," said Moss, who reported the finding in The Lancet medical journal.

In addition to preventing acute bleeding, the drug also reduced average blood loss in the women. Shivering and fever were the most common side-effects of the drug.

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