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IPS Examines Controversy Over WHO-Approved Drug To Prevent Hemorrhage After Labor

Inter Press Service examines the reaction to calls for the WHO “to reverse its listing in April 2011 of misoprostol among essential medicines that ‘satisfy the health care needs of the majority of the population’ and are ‘available at all times in adequate amounts and in appropriate dosage forms, at a price the community can afford'” as a result of a study published in the August issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. “Originally intended for treating gastric ulcers, misoprostol has since 2000 been gaining in popularity for its ability to induce labor and stop postpartum hemorrhage (PPH),” according to the news service.  

“Allyson Pollock [of Queen Mary, University of London], who led the study, stated that there is insufficient evidence to suggest that misoprostol works in preventing PPH” and instead “urges poor countries to improve primary care and prevent anemia to lower the risk of hemorrhage following delivery,” IPS writes. “Pollock’s study has stirred international concern,” the news service notes, adding, “International Planned Parenthood Federation’s Upeka de Silva told IPS in an e-mail that if WHO withdraws misoprostol, it would mean ‘countless women will be denied life-saving care and forced to suffer pregnancy-related complications which are entirely preventable'” (Ebrahim, 9/12).