Backed by technical assistance from a team of researchers at University of California, Berkeley's School of Public Health, a group of Nigerian health professionals won approval for the drug at a January meeting of the Nigerian National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control. Now, the first load of the drug is on its way to Nigeria from the Chinese factory where it was manufactured.
"It's our hope to decrease maternal mortality in Africa in places where there are few resources and few facilities," said Ndola Prata, a physician from Angola who is a lecturer in the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and heads the scientific research in the school's Bixby Program in Population, Family Planning and Maternal Health. "Of each 100 women who go into labor in Nigeria, between 15 and 20 will develop post-partum hemorrhage. Although the majority will survive, most of those who do will suffer from severe anemia-related health problems for weeks or months after delivery. This drug will have a huge impact both in decreasing those problems and in preventing maternal deaths."
Misoprostol has been marketed since 1987 for treatment of gastric ulcers. Although its value for post-partum hemorrhage, or PPH, has been recognized since the early 1990s, the drug has not been distributed in most of the developing countries where maternal mortality rates are highest.
After its patent expired in 2000, interest in misoprostol as a PPH medication surged. Encouraged by initial studies indicating potential benefits in poor countries, a group of leading African obstetricians seeking to bring the drug into their own countries as
Contact: Liese Greensfelder
University of California - Berkeley