This Abortion Drug Is Safe And Effective. Why Can’t You Buy It In A Pharmacy?
A groundbreaking study is underway that could change how U.S. patients access abortion.
By Molly Redden, HuffPost US
July 18, 2019
A first-of-its-kind study underway in California and Washington state could pave the way for the Food and Drug Administration to make mifepristone, the most widely used abortion drug in the United States, available at pharmacies.
Today, mifepristone is only available at abortion clinics, doctor’s offices or hospitals, from providers who register with the drug’s manufacturer. The FDA imposes special rules on mifepristone that prevent it — unlike most medications — from being stocked and sold in a pharmacy.
Study explores role of pharmacy workers in expanding provision of medication abortion in Nepal
Feb 4, 2019
Nepali pharmacy owners and staff who participated in a study on medication abortion provision in pharmacy contexts expressed confidence that they can deliver safe and effective services to their clients, and that they offer an important alternative in regions where women have limited access to clinic-based abortion care. The study, conducted by Goleen Samari of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and her U.S. and Nepali collaborators, is the first to examine the perspectives of these health workers and their role in offering pharmacy-based medication abortion in Nepal.
Despite the legalization of abortion in Nepal in 2002 and subsequent expansion of services, unsafe abortion is still common and exacts a heavy toll on women, as documented in the 2016 study, “Abortion Incidence and Unintended Pregnancy in Nepal.”
With abortion clinic restrictions tightening, women want more access at home
Medication abortion likely meets the FDA criteria for OTC use, but women are still required to get it at a clinic
by Antonia Biggs • Daniel Grossman
November 28, 2018
The website Aid Access recently began offering women in the U.S. the option to obtain an abortion in the privacy of their own homes. U.S. women who are unable to overcome the significant barriers to accessing abortion in a health care setting or prefer the convenience and privacy of home-based care can use the site to purchase a medication abortion product online. While this may seem like a radical approach by U.S. standards, it is likely safe for most women, and especially helpful for women living far from an abortion facility.
The launch of Aid Access comes at a time when women increasingly are faced with restrictions to accessing abortion care. Now more than ever, there is a need to expand the ways that women can obtain the abortion care that they need. Medication abortion, which represents about a third of all abortions provided in health care settings, has the capacity to offer women more choices and to reduce many existing barriers to abortion care.
The prescription abortion pill we could have, but don’t
Mifeprestone is offered directly to patients in places like Canada and Australia, but not in the U.S.
When a patient asks Dr. Graham Chelius for an early-term abortion, all he can do is tell them to buy a plane ticket.
Chelius is a family medicine doctor at a hospital on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i, where there are no surgical abortion providers. His best option is to instead write patients a prescription for what is called a medication abortion: using two drugs – mifepristone and misoprostol – over the course of two or three days, the patient would end their pregnancy themselves. Save for a routine follow-up two weeks later, they wouldn’t need to see Chelius again.
But if he wrote that prescription, his patients wouldn’t be able to fill it. Mifeprex, the American brand name for mifepristone, is one of a handful of drugs that the FDA says is too dangerous for retail pharmacies. It can only be dispensed at pre-approved clinics, hospitals, and private practices, and the hospital where Chelius works doesn’t stock it. The process for approval is so onerous that nowhere on Kaua’i does.