“What is Health Canada thinking on the abortion pill?” – Ottawa Citizen Editorial Board

CART in the news April, 2016:

Excerpts from the National PostOttawa Citizen and Toronto Star

The Toronto Star: “It’s been available in France since 1988, Britain since 1991 and the United States since 2000. Now 28 years after it first appeared on the market, mifepristone — better known as the abortion pill RU-486 — will be available in Canada in July under the brand name Mifegymiso.

This is cause for celebration among the 100,000 women who choose an abortion each year in Canada. They will finally have an option other than a surgical abortion with a medication that is already available in 61 countries and is so safe and effective that the World Health Organization includes it in its Model List of Essential Medicines.

The pill will give Canadian women easier access to abortions. They will not have to travel long distances to hospitals or clinics to have one performed surgically and the procedure will not be delayed because of waiting lists.

Still, women’s health advocates and Canadian pharmacists say Health Canada’s restrictive policies on how the drug is to be distributed, while common to other countries where it is available, could make it more difficult than necessary for women to access the pill. That must be changed.”

The Ottawa Citizen: “Just in case you’d thought the legalization of a pill was going to make abortion accessible across Canada, Health Canada, which approved the drug last summer, is here to tell you that when it hits markets this summer, it’s going to be a pain to get ahold of.”

“The government should seriously consider expanding dispensing services and, potentially, prescribing as well. In some jurisdictions, midwives and nurse practitioners can prescribe the drug. For those concerned about what the family doctor might think, for example, this would lift a huge burden.

Caution is understandable. An excess, which has the effect of limiting access, is not.”


The National Post: “In addition, in a situation some have likened to a heroin addict on methadone maintenance, a doctor may insist on witnessing the woman taking the first dose — a practise normally reserved in cases of suspected drug diversion or misuse.

“There is no evidence in any jurisdiction that women would seek and obtain a mifepristone prescription, yet not use it,” said Dr. Wendy Norman, a leading researcher in sexual and reproductive health at the University of British Columbia. “This requirement is medically unnecessary and demeaning to Canadian women.”

Nor is there any safety or medical basis, she said, for limiting dispensing to doctors. “The single most important reason physicians from across the country are citing for not planning to offer mifepristone is the need for physician dispensing,” she said, which will include ordering, stocking and taking payment for the pills, which are expected to cost $270 per package.

“The physicians we have polled — particularly rural physicians — have no infrastructure for this,” Norman said.”


Read the full stories by following the links above or here:  National PostOttawa Citizen  and Toronto Star  .  You can also read CART’s full recommendation, and briefing note in our blog post from May 4th.




Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.