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Inhaled Form of Oxytocin For Maternal Deaths Prevention Successful In First In-Human Trial [VIDEO]

Update Date: Mar 24, 2017 10:15 AM EDT

A new, inhaled form of a drug successfully produced positive results in its first trial with humans. Researchers have developed inhalable oxytocin, a drug used for preventing blood loss after childbirth.

This development was announced on March 21 at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists World Congress in Cape Town, South Africa.

Mothers in developed countries have long enjoyed the widespread availability of oxytocin, a medicine recommended by the World Health Organization to treat postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). In contrast, the majority of maternal death in low and low-middle income nations is caused by PPH because of hurdles in accessing the drug. It comes as an injection which requires refrigeration and is administered by doctors.

Awareness of this problem in developing countries inspired researchers from the Monash University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) and sponsors from London-based GlaxoSmithKline to make reaching for the life-saving medicine easier in these areas.

The success of the dry-powder inhaled form of oxytocin in humans will also eliminate the need for the lengthy process required when developing a completely new drug, although smaller clinical trials are still necessary.

Many women undergo pregnancy and childbirth without any life-threatening conditions, but a few women do. Doctors, nurses and midwives then try to make sure they are able to save both the mother and the baby's lives.

Data shows that the leading cause of death of some 300,000 women in developing countries is hemorrhage. It is a childbirth complication in which a mother could lose over 500ml of blood within a period of up to six weeks after delivery. Oxytocin is the drug of choice for the prevention and control of excessive bleeding.

Disorders of the placenta, high blood pressure, blood clots in the legs or lungs, sepsis (infection) and amniotic fluid embolism are also serious complications, according to Health Talk.

The inhaled form of oxytocin may work just as well as the injection version as the clinical trial demonstrated.

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