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Study Finds 'Inconclusive' Evidence To Support Use Of WHO-Backed Drug To Prevent Hemorrhage During Labor

According to a study published Monday in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, “[t]he World Health Organization [WHO] should review its approval of a drug used to prevent life-threatening bleeding in women in childbirth because there is not enough evidence that it is effective,” Reuters reports. The study finds that “the evidence to support the use of misoprostol is ‘at best inconclusive,’ yet it is increasingly used in poorer countries to prevent postpartum hemorrhage (PPH),” the news service writes, noting “researchers analyzed 172 previous studies on the use of misoprostol during labor and found that only six had enough information to say whether or not the drug was effective in preventing PPH in rural and community settings in poor countries” (Kelland, 8/20).

“[D]espite there being no proper evidence of benefit, the WHO and some countries have put it on the Essential Medicine Lists and the drug is being pushed hard by networks of global public-private partnerships and industry in low- and middle-income countries,” Allyson Pollock, lead researcher on the study from Queen Mary University of London, says, according to a university press release. “We urge the WHO to urgently review its decision to put misoprostol on its Essential Medicines List,” she continues, adding, “The most effective preventive strategy for PPH is prevention of anemia, good antenatal care including good hygiene and sanitation and good care during labor,” the press release states (8/20).

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