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Religious Tolerance logo

The RU-486 abortion pill

Developments in various
countries, from 2006 to now:

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This is a continuation of the previous article which covered the years 2003 to 2005.


Developments during 2006:

bullet

2006-FEB-16: Australia: Ban on RU-486 abandoned:

Australia's lower House of Representatives voted with almost a 2:1 margin, to remove the authority of Tony Abbott, the health minister, to prevent the import and prescription of  RU-486. SABC News describes Abbot as a:

"conservative, [Roman] Catholic, anti-abortionist..."

The bill had previously been passed by a vote of 45 to 28 in Australia's Senate.

Applications to import and fill prescriptions of RU-486 would be handled by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which regulates medicines, medical devices, blood, tissues and chemicals in the country.


bullet

2006-MAY-11: U.S. - GA:

Food and Drug Administration study on RU-486: A panel of scientists are to meet in the Atlanta campus of the Centers for Disease Control to discuss the deaths of four California woman due to a deadly infection after using RU-486. The bacteria involved are Clostridium sordellii and Clostridium difficile. A fifth death of a Colorado woman is being investigated. One topic will be whether the deaths are tied to the vaginal administration of misoprostol. Danco, the manufacturer of the drug will be at the meeting. They note that by the end of 2006-MAR, mifepristone had been used by about 575,000 women in the U.S. with "a very low rate of infection," and " that there is no evidence that the vaginal administration causes an increased risk of infections, and that there is no evidence of contamination of mifepristone.


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Developments during 2013:

bullet

2013: Survey of success rate and safety: According to the Guttmacher Policy Review:

"Medication abortion is highly effective: Its 92–95% success rate is comparable to that of surgical abortion. It is also safe, as severe complications are extremely rare. Of the 1.52 million women in the United States who used Mifeprex between 2000 and 2011, 612 were hospitalized, most frequently because they required a transfusion due to excessive bleeding.

During the same period, there were eight documented cases of U.S. women dying from a severe infection after taking Mifeprex; FDA investigations into these deaths, however, found no evidence of a causal relationship between Mifeprex and the infections."

Developments during 2015:

bullet

2015-AUG-01: RU-486 to be made available in Canada:

The drug manufacturer, Linepharma International, applied to Health Canada in 2012. It had taken until mid 2015 for the federal agency to approve it. It is a mystery why approval has taken so long. The drug is included in the World Health Organization's Model List of Essential Medicines. It was approved in France since 1988, the UK since 1991, the United States since the year 2000, and in 54 countries since then. More than 60% of all abortions in some European contries are performed with this drug in place of surgical methods. It is also used in about 20% of abortions in the U.S.

horizontal rule

Developments 2015 to 2017: RU-486 finally becomes available in Canada:

Health Canada approved RU-486 during 2015-JUL, for use up to seven weeks into a pregnancy. It had been expected to become available in Canada starting in 2016-JAN. However, its release was delayed a year later, until 2017-JAN. Unlike almost all other medications, it was not made available from a pharmacist via a prescription. Instead, it was initially dispensed only by a physician who has first completed an on-line certification course. This allowed the physician to observe his patient actually ingesting the pill.

One of the main advantages to using this medication instead of undergoing a surgical abortion is that women who live in small towns or rural areas would not have to travel for long distances to a clinic that performs abortions. Outside of Quebec, such clinics are typically located only in large cities. However, the requirement that doctors purchase, stock, dispense, collect payment, and reimburse the supplier will probably restrict availability of RU-486 across Canada. Dr. Wendy Norman at the University of British Columbia said:

"This requirement is medically unnecessary and demeaning to Canadian women. ... The single most important reason physicians from across the country are citing for not planning to offer mifepristone is the need for physician dispensing. ... The physicians we have polled -- particularly rural physicians -- have no infrastructure for this."

The two-drug combination was sold under the name Mifegymiso. It was originally expected to cost about CAN $270.00. 8 However, starting on 2017-AUG-03, the Province of Ontario adsorbed the cost of the medication so that it was dispensed for free. Indira Naidoo-Harris, Ontario’s Minister of the Status of Women, told a news conference at the Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre in Toronto that eliminating the fee for the drug is:

"... about fairness, it's about safety, and it's the right thing to do."

Other provinces subsequently followed suit.

During 2017-NOV, Health Canada decided that Mifegymiso could also be dispensed by a pharmacist.

Sandeep Prasad, executive director of Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, said:

"There is [sic] decades worth of evidence from use in over 60 countries proving how safe and effective this medication is, yet Mifegymiso is more regulated than controlled substances in Canada. ... Abortion access shouldn’t depend on your postal code or income bracket. It’s the responsibility of all levels of government to address two-tiered access.”

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2020-JUL: Mifepristone found to have has surprising properties:

Prof. John Tower led a team of scientists at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences in a research project. They found that mifepristone can extend the lifespan of female members of the species Drosophila -- the fruit fly. It also was found to extend the lifespan of C. elegans -- a small roundworm.

Tower explained:

"In the fly, mifepristone decreases reproduction, alters innate immune response and increases life span. In the human, we know that mifepristone decreases reproduction and alters innate immune response, so might it also increase life span?"

He also said:

"In terms of evolution, Drosophila and C. elegans are equally as distant from each other as either one is distant from humans

The fact that mifepristone can increase lifespan in both species suggests the mechanism is important to many species -- perhaps including humans.

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More recent developments are described in the next article


Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" topics > Abortion > Facts > RU-486 > here

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Copyright © 2003 to 2020 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2020-AUG-03
Author: B.A. Robinson

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2015 to now: RU-486 becomes available in Canada:

Health Canada approved RU-486 during 2015-JUL, for use up to seven weeks into a pregnancy. It had been expected to become available in Canada starting in 2016-JAN. 7 However, its release was delayed a year later, until 2017-JAN. Unlike almost all other medications, it was not made available from a pharmacist via a prescription. Instead, it was initially dispensed only by a physician who has first completed an on-line certification course. This allowed the physician to observe his patient actually ingesting the pill.

One of the main advantage to using this medication instead of undergoing a surgical abortion is that women who live in small towns or rural areas would not have to travel for long distances to a clinic that performs abortions. Outside of Quebec, such clinics are typically located only in large cities. However, the requirement that doctors purchase, stock, dispense, collect payment, and reimburse the supplier will probably restrict availability of RU-486 across Canada. Dr. Wendy Norman at the University of British Columbia said:

"This requirement is medically unnecessary and demeaning to Canadian women. ... The single most important reason physicians from across the country are citing for not planning to offer mifepristone is the need for physician dispensing. ... The physicians we have polled -- particularly rural physicians -- have no infrastructure for this." 8

The two-drug combination was sold under the name Mifegymiso. It was originally expected to cost about CAN $270.00. 8 However, starting on 2017-AUG-03, the Province of Ontario adsorbed the cost of the medication so that it was dispensed for free. Indira Naidoo-Harris, Ontario’s Minister of the Status of Women, told a news conference at the Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre in Toronto that eliminating the fee for the drug is:

"... about fairness, it's about safety, and it's the right thing to do." 9

Other provinces followed suit.

During 2017-NOV, Health Canada decided that Mifegymiso could also be dispensed by a pharmacist.

Sandeep Prasad, executive director of Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights,, said:

"There is decades worth of evidence from use in over 60 countries proving how safe and effective this medication is, yet Mifegymiso is more regulated than controlled substances in Canada. ... Abortion access shouldn’t depend on your postal code or income bracket. It’s the responsibility of all levels of government to address two-tiered access.”

 

 
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