Janssen signs new research collaboration with Monash

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Janssen has teamed up with Monash University for a research and development program to advance the development of inhaled oxytocin for the prevention of postpartum hemorrhage in developing countries.

Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) is the excessive loss of blood in mothers in the period after childbirth. It can cause death, particularly in developing countries, but most could be avoided.

It is managed in developed countries using the standard of care - oxytocin - that is the manufactured form of a natural hormone.

Yet access to the treatment is limited in low-income countries. One challenge for these countries is that the current oxytocin products are only available in an injectable form - they require cold-storage and administration by trained personnel.

Under the new agreement, Janssen will fund a research team at Monash University's Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) to rapidly evaluate their dry powder formulation of oxytocin in preparation for large-scale, international trials.

"It is a privilege for Janssen to continue to help develop a great, local Australian idea that has the potential to address a significant global health issue.  We welcome the opportunity to work once again with our long-term collaboration partner, Monash University," said Bruce Goodwin, the managing director of Janssen Australia.

The Victorian government's Medical Research Acceleration Fund will also support the project by co-funding a clinical trial.

MIPS is also collaborating with GSK under an agreement signed in 2014. Monash University said GSK will continue to provide access to technical expertise as required to support the ongoing development of inhaled oxytocin. 

Inhaled oxytocin can overcome the existing limitations of current injection products because it presents a low-cost, heat stable and non-invasive alternative.

According to the project lead at MIPS, Professor Michelle McIntosh, “PPH is a significant and challenging global health issue so we’re very excited to be collaborating with Janssen to accelerate the development of this urgently needed healthcare innovation, which has been uniquely designed for affordability and simplicity of use in resource-constrained settings.

“As we find ourselves in the clutches of a global pandemic, it’s been encouraging to see many positive instances of the private sector working together with academia to provide solutions to industry identified problems. This collaboration is yet another great example of the pharmaceutical industry supporting and collaborating with academia to tackle a critical unmet medical need.”

“Making an oxytocin inhaler a standard part of every midwife's bag, or including one in a safe birthing kit for expectant mothers, could be the difference between life and death for hundreds of thousands of women,” added Professor McIntosh.

"Johnson & Johnson Innovation looks for the best, new science to create healthcare solutions that improve people’s lives," said Kathy Connell, senior director of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, ANZ.

"While the world has made significant progress in providing improved healthcare, major gaps remain, and bolder, smarter approaches are needed to overcome the drastic inequity in access to care – now.

"Upholding the rich heritage of Johnson & Johnson, we are taking on the toughest challenges, and, ultimately, we hope to do our part to close the gap of inequity and pave the way to a healthier future for the world’s most vulnerable and underserved populations. Monash Universities Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences’ novel approach represents significant potential to improve the lives of new mothers around the World."