Long wait for abortion options

June 23, 2007

Reproductive health service provider Marie Stopes International has announced it will begin providing medical abortions using cancer drug methotrexate at clinics in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria. The move to broaden the offering of medical abortions using methotrexate in combination with another drug, misoprostol, may add momentum to push the more effective abortion pill, RU486, onto the market.

Despite the RU486 Private Members Bill passing through the House of Representatives in February 2006, and a number of medical practitioners applying to prescribe the drug in Australia soon afterwards, no drug company has yet applied to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to manufacture or market RU486 in Australia.

Cairns obstetrician Caroline de Costa has indicated that the delay was curious, given drug companies' usual eagerness to embrace the supply of new drugs. There is a wait to see if any drug companies will act despite obvious political opposition from the Coalition government.

Dr de Costa, a long-time supporter of women's right to access non-surgical early term abortion, has welcomed the move by Marie Stopes International as offering women a broader range of options for dealing with unwanted pregnancies.

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