Drug to Prevent Preterm Birth Could Save Billions Annually

Researchers calculate benefit of widespread use of 17 alpha hydroxyprogesterone caproate

WEDNESDAY, March 7 (HealthDay News) -- If all expectant mothers with a history of preterm birth were treated with 17 alpha hydroxyprogesterone caproate (17P), it could reduce the annual direct medical cost of preterm birth in the United States by more than $2 billion, according to a report in the March issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Jennifer L. Bailit, M.D., of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and a colleague combined data on the costs of preterm birth with the results of seven randomized control trials on the effectiveness of 17P.

The researchers calculated that treating high-risk expectant mothers with 17P would result in individual savings of $1,000-$3,000 in initial neonatal hospital care, $7,500 in the child's medical care through age 15, and an additional $15,900 in the child's medical care through age 75. They found that universal treatment of all eligible women would result in annual overall savings of more than $2 billion in direct medical costs.

"As more evidence accumulates about the effectiveness of 17P to prevent preterm birth, the current work of Bailit et al. provides valuable information about the magnitude of the cost benefit of 17P that can help inform health policy decisions and guide resource investments in the prevention of preterm birth," states the author of an accompanying editorial.

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