Background: Access to oxytocin for prevention of postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) in resource-poor settings is limited by the requirement for a consistent cold chain and for a skilled attendant to administer the injection. To overcome these barriers, heat-stable, non-injectable formulations of oxytocin are under development, including oxytocin for inhalation. This study modelled the cost-effectiveness of an inhaled oxytocin product (IHO) in Bangladesh and Ethiopia.
Methods: A decision analytic model was developed to assess the cost-effectiveness of IHO for the prevention of PPH compared to the standard of care in Bangladesh and Ethiopia. In Bangladesh, introduction of IHO was modelled in all public facilities and home deliveries with or without a skilled attendant. In Ethiopia, IHO was modelled in all public facilities and home deliveries with health extension workers. Costs (costs of introduction, PPH prevention and PPH treatment) and effects (PPH cases averted, deaths averted) were modelled over a 12-month program. Life years gained were modelled over a lifetime horizon (discounted at 3%). Cost of maintaining the cold chain or effects of compromised oxytocin quality (in the absence of a cold chain) were not modelled.
Results: In Bangladesh, IHO was estimated to avert 18,644 cases of PPH, 76 maternal deaths and 1954 maternal life years lost. This also yielded a cost-saving, with the majority of gains occurring among home deliveries where IHO would replace misoprostol. In Ethiopia, IHO averted 3111 PPH cases, 30 maternal deaths and 767 maternal life years lost. The full IHO introduction program bears an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of between 2 and 3 times the per-capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($1880 USD per maternal life year lost) and thus is unlikely to be considered cost-effective in Ethiopia. However, the ICER of routine IHO administration considering recurring cost alone falls under 25% of per-capita GDP ($175 USD per maternal life-year saved).
Conclusions: IHO has the potential to expand access to uterotonics and reduce PPH-associated morbidity and mortality in high burden settings. This can facilitate reduced spending on PPH management, making the product highly cost-effective in settings where coverage of institutional delivery is lagging.