Objective: To assess the worldwide availability of misoprostol. Documenting the extent of misoprostol use in obstetrics-gynecology is difficult because the drug typically is unregistered for such indications.
Methods: Data for 2002-2007 on annual sales (measured in weight) to hospitals and retail pharmacies, plus manufacturer prices per 200-microg misoprostol, were analyzed for medications containing misoprostol alone or combined with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID); regional and country-specific trends were identified. Consumer prices per pill are documented for all formulations of registered medications.
Results: Of the misoprostol sold worldwide, 70% was misoprostol-NSAID-combination drugs; of this, 91% was sold in North America and Western Europe. Asia sold the most misoprostol-only drugs; sales increased dramatically in Bangladesh (by 128%) and India (646%), where various low-price brands are sold. Misoprostol sales decreased in Latin America but increased in the Middle East-North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa; these regions generally had low amounts sold per population.
Conclusion: Availability is improving in some low-income regions where misoprostol could significantly reduce maternal deaths due to postpartum hemorrhage and unsafe abortion.