A (Pregnant) Pause For Thought
It’s time for maternal health to escape from the dark ages, and pharma has a duty to help.
Roisin McGuigan |
Recently, The Medicine Maker has published numerous articles discussing the future of pharma and the role that new “Industry 4.0” technologies can play. Big data and AI, for example, could have a huge impact on drug discovery (1)(2), and at the recent CPhI trade show in Madrid there was an enormous focus on technologies that enable continuous processing and continuous bioprocessing. In previous issues, we have also written about smartglasses that empower workers in new ways (3), and 3D printing technologies (4). The amount of technology at pharma’s disposal is truly staggering. A number of cutting-edge themes also feature in our October issue. Researchers discuss the use of computer simulations for reducing side effects (read more), and Kal Patel looks at how pharma can use digitization to benefit patients (read more).
But if industry 4.0 is the future of pharma, I don’t think it’s too much of an exaggeration to say that the current approach to drugs for use during pregnancy and lactation is the polar opposite. It’s an area of medicine still trapped in the dark ages – and the subject of this month’s cover feature. Too often, risks to the developing fetus or baby are thought to be too high a price to pay to study or treat pregnant and lactating women. But the lack of information leaves many women with an impossible choice to make: stop taking a much-needed medication and risk the health consequences, or continue with it and face unknown risks to the unborn or newly born child. I spoke with doctors who are struggling to treat their patients, a representative of Duchesnay (a pharma company with a special focus on drugs for maternal use), and to researchers who have worked on PRGLAC – a US taskforce dedicated to addressing the knowledge gap. The message? Change is coming.
This topic has recently (over the last 8 months or so) shifted from the purely theoretical to the highly relevant for me; my first child is due at the end of October. Despite being in relatively good health, I have certainly faced tricky decisions on whether to take basic OTC medications (or not). But for women with serious and chronic conditions that require medication, change simply can’t come fast enough. I hope pharma continues to work on the means to “deliver” to us all.
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- R McGuigan, “Medicina Ex Machina,” The Medicine Maker (2018). Available at https://bit.ly/2GlmO6J.
- J Strachan, “AI Picks Parkinson’s,” The Medicine Maker (2018). Available at https://bit.ly/2AdqgAo.
- A Stracquatanio, “Harnessing Augmented Reality,” The Medicine Maker (2018). Available at https://bit.ly/2geNduJ.
- J Strachan, “Regulating a 3D-Printed Future,” The Medicine Maker (2018). Available at https://bit.ly/2Ou2l8C.