Pregnant woman

Halting certain medication for pregnant women could save NHS £20m a year, study shows

The NHS could be set to save £20m per year after a new study showed that a medication for inherited blood clotting doesn’t increase the chance of a successful pregnancy.

The ALIFE2 trial found the drug known as heparin, which is typically prescribed to pregnant women with acquired blood clotting disorders, is not effective for pregnant women with an inherited blood clotting condition called thrombophilia.

To conduct their research, health professionals recruited 326 women from 40 hospitals around the world who had inherited thrombophilia and two or more miscarriages.

Around half of the women received daily injections of heparin starting from their positive pregnancy test right up until labour. The other half were not offered the medication.

The study, which was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research, showed that the rate of live births was similar while the risk of complications like placental abruption, pre-eclampsia and premature birth were also about the same across both groups.

Deputy director at Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research, Professor Siobhan Quenby, led the research.

"Many women with recurrent miscarriage around the world are tested for inherited thrombophilia and are treated with heparin daily,” said Prof Quenby.

“Research now shows that this screening is not needed, the treatment isn’t effective, and it is giving false hope to many by continuing to offer it as a potential preventive treatment."

The researchers say that if the NHS ended the screening and stopped treating inherited thrombophilia with heparin, it could save approximately £20m annually.

Read the full study findings here.

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NHE May/June 2024

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