Oxytocin is gradually losing its potency due bad temperatures


The quality of Oxytocin, a life-saving drug used to prevent excessive bleeding during childbirth (postpartum haemorrhage) is reported to be consistently losing its efficacy across low and middle income countries.

This has been attributed to heat exposure in the supply-chain and below required product manufacturing standard.

A study conducted by Concept Foundation and funded by MSD Mothers also blamed weak regulatory systems and procurement procedures that allow fake manufacturers to side-step World Health Organization (WHO) pre-qualification.

The findings of the study, a copy of which was made available to the Ghana News Agency (GNA), was presented at the 18th general meeting of the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition held in Brussels, Belgium.

In Ghana, the country of origin of 10 per cent of oxytocin is not known. Again two out of the 13 oxytocin manufacturers of the tested samples were registered in Ghana between year 2012 and 2014.

Evidence of poor quality testing studies undertaken in low and middle income countries between 2010 to 2018, including Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya ,India , Indonesia, Ethiopia, Guatemala and Peru showed failure rate of oxytocin ranging from 12 per cent to over 80 per cent.

Fiona Theunissen, lead author of the study and Programme Manager, Maternal Health, Concept Foundation, told the GNA that “investments in high quality uterotonics (agents used to induce birth) must be made a top priority to improve maternal health outcomes”.

She added that maternal deaths could be avoided if all the major actors’ – governments, health care providers, regulators and manufacturers performed their expected roles well.

She encouraged increased reportage on maternal health issues by the media, especially on “the journey of pregnancy to child birth” and to keep duty bearers on their toes.

Governments should up their game by procuring quality uterotonics and to invest in reliable cold-chain for oxytocin.

Meanwhile, the WHO is conducting a global clinical study on heat stable carbetocin and a dry powder inhalable oxytocin, to help curtail unwarranted deaths during child birth.

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