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New medicines for spontaneous preterm birth prevention and preterm labour management: landscape analysis of the medicine development pipeline.

McDougall ARA, Hastie R, Goldstein M, Tuttle A, Ammerdorffer A, Gülmezoglu AM, Vogel JP

  • Journal BMC pregnancy and childbirth

  • Published 18 Jul 2023

  • Volume 23

  • ISSUE 1

  • Pagination 525

  • DOI 10.1186/s12884-023-05842-9


There are few medicines in clinical use for managing preterm labor or preventing spontaneous preterm birth from occurring. We previously developed two target product profiles (TPPs) for medicines to prevent spontaneous preterm birth and manage preterm labor. The objectives of this study were to 1) analyse the research and development pipeline of medicines for preterm birth and 2) compare these medicines to target product profiles for spontaneous preterm birth to identify the most promising candidates.

Adis Insight, Pharmaprojects, WHO international clinical trials registry platform (ICTRP), PubMed and grant databases were searched to identify candidate medicines (including drugs, dietary supplements and biologics) and populate the Accelerating Innovations for Mothers (AIM) database. This database was screened for all candidates that have been investigated for preterm birth. Candidates in clinical development were ranked against criteria from TPPs, and classified as high, medium or low potential. Preclinical candidates were categorised by product type, archetype and medicine subclass.

The AIM database identified 178 candidates. Of the 71 candidates in clinical development, ten were deemed high potential (Prevention: Omega-3 fatty acid, aspirin, vaginal progesterone, oral progesterone, L-arginine, and selenium; Treatment: nicorandil, isosorbide dinitrate, nicardipine and celecoxib) and seven were medium potential (Prevention: pravastatin and lactoferrin; Treatment: glyceryl trinitrate, retosiban, relcovaptan, human chorionic gonadotropin and Bryophyllum pinnatum extract). 107 candidates were in preclinical development.

This analysis provides a drug-agnostic approach to assessing the potential of candidate medicines for spontaneous preterm birth. Research should be prioritised for high-potential candidates that are most likely to meet the real world needs of women, babies, and health care professionals.