New funding for research on medicine use during pregnancy

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has granted the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) £292,000 to support its computer-aided modelling research on medicine use during pregnancy.

Specialists from the UK-based MHRA are working in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to research medicine use during pregnancy and its health impact on women around the world. The Foundation has provided the MHRA with a grant, worth £292,000, to support its  research. The funding will allow the foundation to study medicine use during pregnancy and how medicines need to be adjusted during different trimesters.

Dr June Raine, Director of Vigilance and Risk Management of Medicines, MHRA said: “Patient safety is our highest priority and we are determined to support innovation in this important area, which helps improve the quality of health for pregnant women in the UK and internationally. This work provides a valuable launch pad for new developments into, and improved understanding of how pregnancy affects medicine levels. That is why we are encouraging healthcare professionals, research groups and those looking to supply medicines during pregnancy, to make full use of the prediction models, data and resources we will provide.”

It is generally recommended to avoid medicine use during pregnancy, although more than half of all pregnant women consume at least one medicinal product during their pregnancy. Data in this area remains limited and new insights could potentially impact the health of pregnant women around the world. This would also give obstetricians further clarity on the optimal dose of a medicine, when treating pregnant patients, for whom use of a medicine is necessary.

Medicine use can be essential to safeguarding the health of mother and baby. This includes treating existing conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, or cardiovascular conditions. However, for many medicines, unless indicated for use during pregnancy, the best regimen and dosage levels during different stages of pregnancy are largely unknown. In this research, MHRA specialists will use prediction models to develop recommended medicine dosages for pregnant women in the UK. This includes evaluating existing models— known as physiologically-based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models and simulations to develop a full picture for all stages of pregnancy.

Trevor Mundel, President of Global Health, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said: “We’re excited to play a part in the work that MHRA is doing around maternal health. We hope the innovative use of computer-aided modelling will help make medicine use safer and more effective for pregnant women around the world. We are dedicated to improving the quality of people’s lives and look forward to the outcome of new developments in this area.”

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