Logo: Merck for Mothers
  • Logo: Merck Be Well

Heat-Stable Carbetocin: A New Gold Standard for Saving Mother's Lives?

Every day, more than 220 women around the world die from severe bleeding after childbirth (post-partum hemorrhage)1. Globally, post-partum hemorrhage is the number one direct cause of maternal mortality. Most of these tragic deaths can be prevented if women have timely access to a skilled health provider and a well-equipped health facility.2 Yet, even the most capable health provider may not be able to save a woman's life if they don't have high-quality medicines readily available.

The standard treatment for preventing and treating excessive bleeding after childbirth is a medicine called oxytocin.3 Oxytocin must be refrigerated, yet in many parts of the world, access to electricity and refrigeration is inconsistent and expensive, jeopardizing the quality of this life-saving medicine.4 In order to address this problem and end preventable maternal mortality, we need better solutions.

Merck for Mothers, Ferring Pharmaceuticals and the World Health Organization (WHO) are partnering to further develop and provide access to a heat-stable formulation of carbetocin to prevent excessive bleeding in women after childbirth. Access to a heat-stable formulation where it is needed most -- in low and lower middle income countries worldwide – could enable health providers to save more women's lives.

As part of the partnership, the WHO is conducting a clinical study in ten countries to evaluate the effectiveness of an investigational, heat-stable carbetocin compared to oxytocin for the prevention of post-partum hemorrhage and severe postpartum hemorrhage after vaginal birth. Learn more about the WHO-sponsored clinical study protocol in a recently published article in Trials.

We believe that no mother should have to die giving life. As we continue to develop this life-saving medicine, we will work with our partners to ensure that, once its effectiveness has been established and approved by the appropriate regulatory bodies, it is available at an affordable and sustainable price, and accessible to countries that suffer from the highest burdens of maternal mortality.

1 Lale Say et al., "Global causes of maternal death: a WHO systematic analysis," Lancet Global Health 2014; 2: e323-33. Available from: http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/langlo/PIIS2214-109X(14)70227-X.pdf; World Health Organization, Maternal Mortality, Fact sheet Number 348, available from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs348/en/
2 World Health Organization, WHO recommendations for the prevention and treatment of postpartum hemorrhage, 2012, available from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/75411/1/9789241548502_eng.pdf
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.