Inhalable oxytocin may be used in resource-limited states to manage postpartum haemorrhage, as the result of a research agreement between Janssen Pharmaceutica, a Johnson & Johnson unit, and the Monash University’s Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS).

Excessive loss of blood after childbirth is considered to be the primary cause of maternal mortality worldwide, with approximately 60,000 deaths recorded each year.

The condition is more common in resource-limited countries, while developed countries manage PPH using injectable form of oxytocin.

Injectable oxytocin requires supply and storage under refrigerated conditions, and trained personnel need to administer the product to ensure safety. This restricts its accessibility in resource-limited countries.

An inhalable oxytocin in dry powder form is expected to eliminate the need for refrigeration, as well as expand its reach and ease-of-administration by frontline health workers, birth attendants and potentially mothers themselves.

“The lifetime risk of dying for a woman in child birth is 23 times higher in resource-limited settings than anywhere else.”

Johnson & Johnson Global Public Health global head Jaak Peeters said: “When you consider the lifetime risk of dying for a woman in child birth is 23 times higher in resource-limited settings than anywhere else you must act if you have the scientific capabilities to potentially help overcome that inequity.

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“We hope to address this significant unmet need by helping accelerate the development of what would be a truly life-saving innovation and give women and their families everywhere the same chance at life.”

MIPS partnered with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in 2014 to co-develop, register and distribute inhaled forms of oxytocin in regions with high maternal mortality.

This deal involved financial support and research and development expertise from GSK.

As part of the latest alliance, Monash researchers will have access to Johnson & Johnson’s research, plus its investor and commercial operations expertise.

MIPS professor Michelle McIntosh said: “This is an exciting opportunity to expand this collaboration between industry and academia to develop an important healthcare innovation that aims to address a critical unmet medical need.

“There is a massive ripple effect when a mother dies – it’s a very significant burden for these families and communities, and we are committed to bringing the gold-standard care to all mothers.”