Drug combination offers more effective care for patients suffering miscarriage

A combination of the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol can help bring closure to some women and their families suffering from miscarriage, and reduces the need for surgical intervention to complete the painful miscarriage process. Results of a new clinical trial led by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine show that while the standard drug regimen using misoprostol on its own frequently fails to complete the miscarriage, a combination of misoprostol and the drug mifepristone works much more reliably. The report is published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Each year in the United States alone approximately 1 million women have miscarriages. When the body does not expel the pregnancy tissue on its own—the final part of a miscarriage—women need to undergo a surgical procedure or take the drug misoprostol. Though often preferable for its convenience and privacy—patients can take it in the comfort of their own homes—misoprostol does not always work, and many women who use misoprostol are still left with no option but to undergo an invasive procedure they wished to avoid, prolonging an already physically and emotionally difficult situation.

“Though rarely discussed openly, miscarriage is the most common complication of pregnancy, and the public health burden is both physical and psychological. For too many women, misoprostol alone just leads to frustration. I have seen my patients suffer from the insult of the treatment failure added to the injury of the initial loss,” said study lead author Courtney A. Schreiber, chief of the division of Family Planning and an associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “As physicians, we have to do better for these patients, and our new study shows that by combining mifepristone with misoprostol, we can.”

Read more at Penn Medicine News.