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      Accessibility and potency of uterotonic drugs purchased by simulated clients in four districts in India

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          Surveillance of drug quality for antibiotics, antiretrovirals, antimalarials and vaccines is better established than surveillance for maternal health drugs in low-income countries, particularly uterotonic drugs for the prevention and treatment of postpartum hemorrhage. The objectives of this study are to: assess private sector accessibility of four drugs used for uterotonic purposes (oxytocin, methylergometrine, misoprostol, valethamate bromide); and to assess potency of oxytocin and methylergometrine ampoules purchased by simulated clients.


          The study was conducted in Hassan and Bagalkot districts in Karnataka state and Agra and Gorakhpur districts in Uttar Pradesh state. A sample of 877 private pharmacies was selected (using a stratified, systematic sampling with random start), among which 847 were successfully visited. The target sample size for assessment of accessibility was 50 pharmacies per drug, per district. The target sample size for potency assessment was 100 purchases each of oxytocin and methylergometrine across all districts. Successful drug purchases varied by state.


          In Agra and Gorakhpur, 90%-100% of visits for each of the drugs resulted in a purchase. In Bagalkot and Hassan, only 29%-52% of visits for each drug resulted in a purchase. Regarding potency, the percent of active pharmaceutical ingredient was assessed using United States Pharmacopeia monograph #33 for both drugs; 193 and 188 ampoules of oxytocin and methylergometrine, respectively, were assessed. The percent of oxytocin ampoules outside manufacturer specification ranged from 33%-40% in Karnataka and from 22%-50% in Uttar Pradesh. In Bagalkot and Hassan, 96% and 100% of the methylergometrine ampoules were outside manufacturer specification, respectively. In Agra and Gorakhpur, 54% and 44% were outside manufacturer specification, respectively.


          Private sector accessibility of uterotonic drugs in study districts in Karnataka warrants attention. Most importantly, interventions to assure quality oxytocin and particularly methylergometrine are needed in study districts in both states.

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          Most cited references 35

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          Counterfeit anti-infective drugs.

          The production of counterfeit or substandard anti-infective drugs is a widespread and under-recognised problem that contributes to morbidity, mortality, and drug resistance, and leads to spurious reporting of resistance and toxicity and loss of confidence in health-care systems. Counterfeit drugs particularly affect the most disadvantaged people in poor countries. Although advances in forensic chemical analysis and simple field tests will enhance drug quality monitoring, improved access to inexpensive genuine medicines, support of drug regulatory authorities, more open reporting, vigorous law enforcement, and more international cooperation with determined political leadership will be essential to counter this threat.
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            Substandard medicines in resource-poor settings: a problem that can no longer be ignored.

            The circulation of substandard medicines in the developing world is a serious clinical and public health concern. Problems include under or over concentration of ingredients, contamination, poor quality ingredients, poor stability and inadequate packaging. There are multiple causes. Drugs manufactured for export are not regulated to the same standard as those for domestic use, while regulatory agencies in the less-developed world are poorly equipped to assess and address the problem. A number of recent initiatives have been established to address the problem, most notably the WHO pre-qualification programme. However, much more action is required. Donors should encourage their partners to include more explicit quality requirements in their tender mechanisms, while purchasers should insist that producers and distributors supply drugs that comply with international quality standards. Governments in rich countries should not tolerate the export of substandard pharmaceutical products to poor countries, while developing country governments should improve their ability to detect substandard medicines.
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              Guidelines for Field Surveys of the Quality of Medicines: A Proposal

              Paul Newton and colleagues propose guidelines for conducting and reporting field surveys of the quality of medicines.

                Author and article information

                BMC Pregnancy Childbirth
                BMC Pregnancy Childbirth
                BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
                BioMed Central (London )
                13 November 2014
                13 November 2014
                : 14
                : 1
                [ ]Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD USA
                [ ]PATH, New Delhi, India
                [ ]PATH, Seattle, WA USA
                [ ]Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD USA
                © Stanton et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Research Article
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                © The Author(s) 2014

                Obstetrics & Gynecology

                methylergometrine, india, medicines quality, uterotonics, potency, oxytocin


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