Obstetric-Fetal Pharmacology Research Centers (OPRC) Network

Please Note: Funding for this network has ended but analysis is still ongoing.


The mission of the OPRC Network, formerly the Obstetric-Fetal Pharmaceutical Research Units Network, was to improve the safety and effective use of therapeutic drugs in pregnant and lactating people. The network’s overall goal was to promote and facilitate cooperative multidisciplinary research to enhance the understanding of obstetric pharmacokinetics (PK) and pharmacodynamics (PD).

OPRCs provided the expert infrastructure needed to test therapeutic drugs during pregnancy. The centers allowed researchers to conduct safe, technically sophisticated, and complex studies that helped clinicians protect the health of pregnant people, improve birth outcomes, and reduce infant mortality.

The centers were initially established in 2004 through the Obstetric and Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics Branch and recompeted in 2014. At its conclusion in 2021, the network included three research centers.

Funded through the U54 cooperative agreement mechanism, each OPRC contained three components:

  • A pharmacology component that conducted PK, PD, and pharmacogenetic studies
  • A clinical study component that tested the disposition and efficacy of drugs whose pharmacology was affected by pregnancy
  • A multidisciplinary basic or nonclinical research component that investigated the mechanisms of drug disposition and response in pregnancy

Topic Areas

OPRC research topics included studies of the efficacy, pharmacology, placental transfer, and placental biotransformation of drugs and therapeutics intended to:

  • Treat gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes
  • Determine optimal use of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor antidepressants in pregnant people
  • Understand pravastatin for the prevention of preeclampsia in high-risk pregnant people
  • Quantify the effect of pregnancy on buprenorphine PK and PD
  • Alter uterine activity, such as with drugs or therapeutics used to delay or prevent preterm birth
  • Treat severe nausea and other side effects of pregnancy
  • Treat other serious conditions in pregnant people, including cancer, rejection of a transplanted organ, and high blood pressure

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