April 20, 2021
Washington, DC—Today, the National Consumers League (NCL), along with a coalition of patient advocacy organizations dedicated to advancing the health of mothers and infants, announced the launch of the Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance.
Members of the Alliance are joining forces in an effort to preserve patient access to the only Food & Drug Administration-approved class of treatments for pregnant women who have previously had an unexpected, or spontaneous, preterm birth. Together, Alliance members seek to ensure that the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) hears concerns from the full range of stakeholders about the potential risks and impact of withdrawal for at-risk pregnant women and their providers.
For the fifth year in a row, the U.S. preterm birth rate has increased (to 10.2 percent of births), and preterm birth and its complications were the second largest contributor to infant death across the country. Preterm birth also represents a significant racial health disparity, with Black women in the U.S. experiencing premature delivery at a rate 50 percent higher than other racial groups throughout the country.
However, in 2020, the FDA proposed withdrawing hydroxyprogesterone caproate, commonly called “17P” or “17-OHPC”, the only FDA-approved class of branded and generic treatments to help prevent the risk of preterm birth in women with a history of spontaneous preterm birth. The FDA is currently determining whether to hold a hearing on the status of 17P, based on conflicting efficacy data from two studies composed of vastly different patient populations, one inclusive of women in the U.S. most vulnerable to preterm birth and one not.
“We’re fighting for a more inclusive healthcare system that gives everyone an equal chance to have the best outcomes possible,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League. “We don’t believe that removing 17P from the market without gaining a better understanding of who could benefit the most from its use is in the best interests of patients, nor their healthcare providers, particularly as there are no other approved treatment options available.”
To date, 14 organizations have joined NCL to advocate for the health interests of at-risk pregnant women and infants, including: 1,000 Days; 2020 Mom; American Association of Birth Centers; Black Mamas Matter Alliance; Black Women’s Health Imperative; Expecting Health; Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Montana; HealthyWomen; Miracle Babies; National Birth Equity Collaborative; National Black Midwives Alliance; National Partnership for Women & Families; Sidelines High-Risk National Support Network; and SisterReach.
“As a trained obstetrician and gynecologist, I know firsthand the impact of preterm birth on Black women and birthing people. I also know that racism – not race – is the driving factor leading the disproportionate impact of preterm birth on Black women and birthing people thereby exacerbating systemic inequities in maternal and infant health. To achieve birth equity, which is the assurance of the conditions of optimal births for all people with a willingness to address racial and social inequities in a sustained effort, we must work to protect and uphold a standard of care for spontaneous, recurrent preterm births and ensure it remains accessible and affordable for all who stand in need,” added Dr. Joia Crear Perry, founder and president of the National Birth Equity Collaborative.
The Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance is calling for the FDA to grant a public hearing to fully consider all of the data, additional research methods, and stakeholder perspectives before deciding whether to withdraw approval of this critical class of therapies. The health of America’s moms and babies warrants the utmost care and consideration.
About the Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance
The Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance is a coalition of maternal and women’s health advocates who share a common concern about the state of preterm birth in the United States and the proposed market withdrawal of 17P, the only FDA-approved class of treatments to help prevent spontaneous, recurrent preterm birth. Formed in 2021 by the National Consumers League, we seek to improve preterm birth outcomes in the United States by maintaining access to safe, FDA-approved treatment options and advocating for more diverse medical research that adequately represents the experiences of women and newborns of color. Women of color need a seat at the table. To learn more, visit www.pretermbirthalliance.org.
Initial support for the Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance is provided by Covis Pharma.