National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

Canada Approves Medication Abortion Drug

Canada's public health ministry, Health Canada, on Monday approved mifepristone, one of the drugs involved in a medication abortion, Huffington Post Canada reports (Raj, Huffington Post Canada, 7/30).

According to the AP/Sacramento Bee, Canadian health officials have been assessing the drug since 2012. The drug's approval now aligns Canada with roughly 60 other countries where mifepristone has been legal for some time, including Australia, the U.S. and many countries in Europe (Noronha, AP/Sacramento Bee, 7/30).

Drug Approval in Canada

The drug will be available in Canada beginning in 2016 via prescription. It will be sold under the brand name Mifegymiso and be packaged with another medication abortion drug, misoprostol. According to the Post, women prescribed a medication abortion will first take the mifepristone and then take misoprostol one to two days later.

Mifegymiso will be prescribed until seven weeks of pregnancy. Patients must undergo an ultrasound prior to being prescribed the drug, and they must give written consent before taking the drug. Further, physicians are required to make sure that patients have access to emergency care in the 14 days following ingestion, and they must schedule a follow-up visit one to two weeks after the treatment. The drug will not be prescribed in cases of ectopic pregnancies or to women with intrauterine devices.

Meanwhile, the drug's manufacturer, Linepharma International Limited, will develop a program for educating and registering prescribers. It also will establish a patient support line and conduct a post-approval study to assess the drug's safety (Huffington Post Canada, 7/30). According to AP/Bee, studies have shown mifepristone is a safe and effective method of abortion through 70 days of gestation (AP/Sacramento Bee, 7/30).

Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, praised the decision, saying, "Mifepristone will allow women to access abortions much earlier on in their pregnancies and will help improve access for women in more rural areas, where there may not be a full-time abortion provider in their community" (Huffington Post Canada, 7/30).