Benefits to Big Pharma companies, healthcare insurers, and patients:
The vast growth in medical care expenses has generated substantial attention to finding treatments that are not only useful, but cost effective as well. Factors affecting this trend include:
Shorter hospital stays
Increased physician income
The rising importance of customer/patient satisfaction
Office-based physician procedures
Similar to the overall healthcare market, the OB/Gyn market has experienced increasing pressures to cut down expenses while maintaining quality of care. Despite this trend, expenditures in this market are on the rise. Specific issues that have played a role in the growth of OB/Gyn healthcare expenses include the following:
The rising costs of neonatal intensive care units (NICU), which are currently estimated at $10,000 a week per patient in the U.S.
The rising costs associated with OB/Gyn insurance, as a consequence of the escalation in the number and size of negligence lawsuits.
The rising costs of long-term treatment for NICU “veteran” babies.
Some of the features include:
– Drugs must accomplish the job they are intended for.
Low side effect profile
- no serious or life threatening side effects or complications, hence the possible applicability as an office procedure.
- this is easier for the patient, doctor and hospital.
- high yield in comparison to the capital expenses that are prevailing today, both directly from the use of comparable drugs, and indirectly, as a result of improved efficacy and reduction of side effects.
Preterm or premature labor is defined as labor prior to the 37th week of gestation. Preterm birth, a complication that affects 11 percent of births in the U.S. each year, is responsible for 75% of infant deaths and 50% of the long-term neurological handicaps, including cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness, and developmental defects. The direct cost of care in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) is a staggering $45-$65 billion in the Western world, treating an estimated 1.5 million preterm babies, and totaling about 4.5 million NICU hospitalization weeks.
To date, the efforts to reduce the prevalence of preterm births have failed. This is attributed to many factors including the difficulties in identifying pregnant women at risk for preterm labor, the lack of reliable diagnosis of such labor, and especially, the inability to efficiently intervene.
Various modalities have been approved for the treatment of preterm labor, but none of them has been proven to be effective for more than 24-48 hours. These include: IV fluids and bed rest, tocolytic (i.e., uterine contraction inhibiting) agents and surgical procedures that attempt to strengthen the cervix.
Labor is induced in 17-24% of deliveries, totaling about 3 million in the Western world annually. Induction is called for when labor needs to be initiated for a variety of maternal and fetal reasons. It may be that the mother has a medical condition such as diabetes, Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension, or that the baby is having problems (i.e., growth retardation or diminution of amniotic fluids). Occasionally, it is done for the convenience of the patient or the practitioner. Postdate pregnancy is the most common indication. According to industry estimates, the market size for induction of therapy is considerable, with prostaglandin sales alone topping $400 million.
Cost savings in novel therapies stem from the acceleration of delivery, minimization of hospitalization, and the reduction of morbidity-associated costs of other potentially harmful therapies.
These risks have created a need for better treatments in the induction of labor. New treatments will have to meet the following criteria:
Higher efficiency in inducting labor (i.e., shorter time to delivery).
Lower cost for hospitals.
Fewer side effects and less discomfort for pregnant women, potentially suitable for office procedures.
Little to no risk for the newborn.