Source: Feminist Majority Foundation
Today, some 40% of all early abortions in the United States are performed simply by women taking medication by mouth with no surgical procedure needed. For millions of women who need to or want to end their pregnancy, Mifepristone, an anti-hormone drug, has provided a preferred method and is truly a medical advancement. The drug can and should be further researched to achieve additional important medical advancements. In the meantime, it should be widely available to treat life-saving medical and mental health conditions now that disproportionately impact women.
Decades of evidence-based, scientific studies indicate that mifepristone, could be an important treatment for a variety of gynecologic and obstetric conditions. It has been shown to be effective in easing the delivery of at-term babies and is widely used in European countries for this purpose. Moreover, other scientific research has indicated its potential in treating some types of breast, ovarian and uterine tumors as well as psychiatric conditions such as bi-polar disorder, generalized depression and post-partum depression, but because the FDA (for what is believe to be political, not medical safety reasons) severely restricts access to the drug for even doctors and researchers, such research concerning potential usage has been limited.
Doctors cannot even write prescriptions for mifepristone – they have to enter a special agreement with the manufacturer and purchase it for their clinic or hospital only for early medication abortion. Additionally, unlike most drugs, mifepristone is not even able to be used in an “off-label” manner – that is to say, used for conditions other than what the drug was originally approved for by the FDA.
Even though the scientific literature shows that mifepristone could be very helpful for some types of breast cancers, ovarian cancers, uterine fibroids, and other tumors disproportionally impacting women, doctors cannot provide this drug to their patients in an off-label manner- because of the restrictive use the FDA agreed to in order to appease the anti-abortion opponents who threatened its approval. Restrictions around accessing mifepristone should be removed so that its full therapeutic value can be thoroughly explored.
Even with FDA approval of mifepristone for medical abortion, its severely restricted access would limit its potential to treat patients with life-threatening medical and psychiatric conditions. When no other professional medical organization stepped in to help patients access this novel anti-hormone medication, the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) arranged with the Food and Drug Administration to develop a Mifepristone Compassionate Use program. For over 15 years, the program has been the only way for doctors to access this drug for their patients with life-threatening conditions who had exhausted all other forms of traditional treatments. The FMF also partnered with the Gynecological Oncology Group, the country’s foremost gynecologic cancer research group (funded by the National Cancer Institute) in conducting a small study on mifepristone for ovarian cancer.