Less than two years after the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of mifepristone for early nonsurgical abortion, a majority of the specialized clinics that provide surgical abortion services in the United States are now offering it. But while many abortion rights supporters had hoped that the drug's approval also would lead substantial numbers of new providers, particularly physicians in private practice, to take up medical abortion, for a number of reasons this has yet to occur.
Mifepristone is a synthetic steroid with antiprogestational effects indicated for the medical termination of intrauterine pregnancy through 49 days' pregnancy. Doses of 1 mg/kg or greater of mifepristone have been shown to antagonize the endometrial and myometrial effects of progesterone in women.
Authorities in the US have given the go-ahead for a controversial abortion pill to be made available to the public.
Mifepristone, formally known as RU486, can induce abortion during the early stages of pregnancy without the need for surgery.
A House subcommittee chaired by Rep. Mark Souder (R.-Ind.) has begun a major investigation into the safety of RU-486 (mifepristone), the use of which has so far killed at least four American women.
Mifepristone blocks a hormone (progesterone)that is necessary for pregnancy to continue. When followed by the second drug, misoprostol (which causes the womb to contract), the pregnancy is usually ended.
When used together with another medicine called misoprostol, mifepristone is used to end an early pregnancy.
Mifepristone (RU 486) blocks the action of cortisol by binding to the glucocorticoid receptor and, therefore, is of potential therapeutic value in Cushing's syndrome. However, research in endogenous hypercortisolism has been hampered by the controversy related to the use of mifepristone for inducing abortion.
A recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report says the abortion drug mifepristone, used for terminating early pregnancies, has been shown to have serious adverse side-effects in women who have been using it since it was first introduced in 2000.
It is the first known death in Australia from the controversial pill, which was the centre of a heated debate in Federal Parliament in 2006, and more recently a criminal trial involving a young couple in the courts of Queensland.
The woman died in 2010 from sepsis - that is, a severe bacterial infection in the bloodstream - several days after being prescribed the drug, otherwise known as mifepristone, from a Marie Stopes International Australia (MSIA) clinic.
Mifepristone (MF) has been largely used in reproductive medicine due to its capacity to modulate the progesterone receptor (PR). The study of MF has been expanded to the field of oncology; yet it remains unclear whether the expression of PR is required for MF to act as an anti-cancer agent.