Health Canada announces that Canadian pharmacies have distributed over 4253 doses of the Mifegymiso Abortion Pill in 2017 – its first year on the market.
This data was revealed following a question on the Order Paper by Conservative MP Arnold Viersen in February.
Joyce Arthur, the senior director of the Abortion Rights Coalition in Canada, said she is pleased that the drug is being used more and more.
Mifegymiso is a combination product that terminates pregnancies after taking doses of two separate drugs.
In January, British Columbia became the sixth province to fully cover the drug, after Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Pro-choice organizations are lobbying other provinces and territories to do the same, highlighting the vulnerability of women living in rural areas and in areas with limited access to abortion.
In November, Health Canada lifted some restrictions on the abortion pill, to allow it to be prescribed after up to nine weeks of pregnancy, instead of seven weeks, as was the case previously.
The Ministry also indicated that patients could obtain the drug from a pharmacist or other prescribing health professional who would no longer be required to undergo training.
According to Joyce Arthur, Mifegymiso was not used much in its early days because of these restrictions. She believes that lifting the training requirement and covering the drug “eases the process and reduces delays.”
Sarah Hobbs-Blyth, Senior Director of Planned Parenthood in Toronto, says she is pleased that “another safe and reliable abortion care” is available to women. His organization started offering the drug last March.
In his questions to Health Canada, MP Arnold Viersen also wanted to know about the side effects of the drug and the number of Canadian women affected by these side effects.
Health Canada says it has not produced any studies on the side effects of Mifegymiso in the last two years. The ministry is nevertheless considering a plan to carry out a post-authorization safety study.
According to Health Canada, so far, “only one report” reports an adverse reaction following taking the drug. The person had suffered significant bleeding, a side effect that is clearly stated in the product health advisories, the ministry said.
Mr. Viersen did not comment directly on Health Canada’s response. Instead, he e-mailed a statement from Life Canada – an association representing anti-abortion groups in Canada – expressing concern over the drug’s frequent side effects, which it says could “hide an underlying complication” .
The ministry says it will continue to monitor drug reactions and take “appropriate action” if safety concerns are raised.
Sarah Brown (RN) is the Lead Editor at Health News Tribune where she covers mental health and emotional wellness. Sarah graduated with a degree in nursing from Ryerson in Toronto. She currently lives in Toronto. Prior to becoming a journalist, Lindsay worked as a health professional in Cambridge Ontario.