The MHRA and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have announced the initiation of new research on medicine use which could impact the health of pregnant women around the world.

The organisations are looking to research the safer, more effective use of medicines during pregnancy, co-inciding with World Patient Safety Day.

MHRA specialists, as part of a broader programme of work, have begun developing “ground-breaking” research to support the safer use of medicine during pregnancy, supported by a $360,000 (£292,000) grant over two years from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The research aims to predict the need for adjusting a medicine’s dose during different trimesters of pregnancy, helping to ensure effective use, which is vitally important for the health of mother and baby.

Research on the topic is vital yet sparse, as data in this area remain limited; new insights could potentially impact the health of pregnant women around the world. It would also give obstetricians further clarity on the optimal dose of a medicine, when treating pregnant patients, for whom use of a medicine is necessary.

Dr June Raine, director of vigilance and risk management of Medicines, MHRA said: “Patient safety is our highest priority and we are determined to support innovation in this important area, which helps improve the quality of health for pregnant women in the UK and internationally.

She continued, “This work provides a valuable launch pad for new developments into, and improved understanding of how pregnancy affects medicine levels. That’s why we are encouraging healthcare professionals, research groups and those looking to supply medicines during pregnancy, to make full use of the prediction models, data and resources we will provide.”

GOV UK reminds that when pregnant or breastfeeding, it is generally recommended to avoid the use of medicines, although more than half of all pregnant women consume at least one medicinal product during their pregnancy.