Australian first trial using Viagra® in pregnancy supported by Golden Casket donation

Australian first trial using Viagra® in pregnancy supported by Golden Casket donation

RELATED NEWS: Professor Sailesh Kumar discusses the findings of a recent trial in the Netherlands using Sildenafil, reported in the media on 25 July 2018.

An Australian first research trial at Mater Mothers’ Hospitals, using the drug Sildenafil—commonly known as Viagra—to improve outcomes in labour, is one of several programs to be boosted by a $500 000 donation from Golden Casket.

Preliminary results from the Ridstress trial show there is close to a 50 per cent reduction in women requiring an emergency caesarean or a forceps delivery for fetal distress when they take Sildenafil in the early stages of labour. 

Mater Research Institute-UQ Professor Sailesh Kumar said as Sildenafil increased blood flow to the pelvis and was used to treat other conditions, the premise of the trial was that it could increase blood flow to the uterus and placenta during labour.

“Increasing blood flow improves the transport of oxygen and nutrients to the baby and this may reduce the risk of the baby becoming distressed in labour,” he said.

Prof Kumar said more than 60 per cent of babies who suffered oxygen deprivation in labour had no prior risk factors and in these cases, many women often required an emergency caesarean.

“Preventing fetal distress can greatly improve the short and longer-term health outcomes of the baby.

“Emergency caesarean births are associated with poorer results for both the mother and baby, so these preliminary results showing a decrease in emergency caesareans using Sildenafil is very promising,” he said.

At 37 weeks, 44-year-old Wendy van Dyk-Stowers was induced and several tests indicated that her baby had a higher chance of distress in labour.

“I underwent several tests and they showed that my placenta was starting to deteriorate and Noah was at risk of becoming distressed.

“The trial was explained to me and I really wanted to be involved. I was happy to take a simple tablet if it meant that it could help Noah and myself. 

"I was 44 so I knew there were heightened risks and it was quite worrying going in to labour. I had full faith in the clinical team that we would be both ok and that this trial could potentially really help us.

“Taking Viagra and knowing that it encourages blood flow just made sense to me so I didn’t hesitate,” she said.

Wendy experienced some stressful periods during labour and was relieved when Noah was born weighing 3.1 kg—with no complications.

“Having a vaginal birth was important to me and I’m glad that being involved in the trial helped me to have that,” she said.

"I'm really happy that positive results have come from the trial already, as this simple medication could help prevent a lot of emergency situations.

“The staff at Mater Mothers were wonderful. I felt reassured the whole way as I knew that I would get the best care.”

Already 230 women have taken part in the randomised trial and a further 200 will be recruited over the next 12 months.

With such encouraging results at this stage, Prof Kumar said if the trial continued with similar positive outcomes, it had the potential to change standard clinical practice not only at Mater, but both nationally and internationally.

Prof Kumar said he and his team of researchers were thankful to Golden Casket for donating such a significant amount to this trial and a number of others being carried out at Mater Mothers.

“The success of this trial and others we are doing at Mater, that will ultimately improve the outcomes for mothers and their babies, rely on the generosity of the community and donations like these.

“We are very grateful for Golden Casket’s ongoing commitment to improve the healthcare of mothers and babies through research,” he said.

This is the 27th year that Golden Casket has donated to Mater Foundation to fund research, totalling more than $13 million to date.

Golden Casket Chief Operating Officer Sue van der Merwe said she was privileged to deliver this year’s $500 000 donation to Mater Foundation and looked forward to further Australian-first research trials, such as the Ridstress trial.

“We’re committed to giving back to our community and it’s heartening to see our donation drive research projects that help improve the lives of Queensland families,” Ms van der Merwe said.

“Mater’s Ridstress trial shows the ingenuity of Queensland researchers and it is another step towards our shared goal of ensuring all Queenslanders have the best possible start to their lives.

“Mothers like Wendy van Dyk-Stowers and her healthy baby Noah are testament to the positive impact Mater’s research can have across Australia and the world.”

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