Parents of Teen Who Died From RU 486 Abortion Drug File Lawsuit

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 21, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Parents of Teen Who Died From RU 486 Abortion Drug File Lawsuit Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 21, 2004

Livermore, CA ( — The parents of California teenager Holly Patterson, who died last year after complications from the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug, are suing the maker of the abortion pill. The Pattersons filed wrongful death and product liability lawsuits against New York-based Danco Laboratories.

In September 2003, Holly Patterson received the RU 486 abortion drug, also known as Mifeprex or mifepristone, from a Planned Parenthood abortion facility near San Francisco.

She reported severe pain and bleeding afterwards and died days later at a local hospital.

In October 2003, the Alameda County Coroner’s office determined that Patterson died as a result of septic shock brought on by an incomplete abortion.

Frank Gentle, supervising coroner investigator, said "septic shock, due to endomyometritis (inflammation) due to therapeutic, drug-induced abortion," caused Patterson’s death.

Last month, Cynthia Summers, marketing director for Danco Laboratories, claimed the abortion drug was not responsible for California teenager Holly Patterson’s death.

"We believe our drug is not to blame," she told the New York Times. "The drug is safe. It’s effective. And it provides another option for women to end early pregnancy."

Summers again defended the drug after hearing of the lawsuit.

She indicated that "no causal relationship between the use of the Mifeprex regimen and the unfortunate death of Ms. Patterson has been established."

However, Dr. Lester Crawford, the FDA’s acting commissioner of food and drugs, disagreed. "Our investigation reveals that it was due to mifepristone," Dr. Crawford said.

The Patterson’s lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, says Danco failed to properly warn doctors of the potential dangers of Mifeprex.

The lawsuit also names the Population Council, a pro-abortion group holding the patent rights to the drug; Planned Parenthood Golden Gate, which gave Holly the abortion pills; and ValleyCare Health System, which operates the hospital where Patterson died.

Mark Crawford, the attorney representing Monty and Deborah Patterson, discussed the case with the Contra Costa Times newspaper.

"I haven’t filed this thing to get publicity," he said. "It’s filed because there’s been some wrongdoing on the part of the drug manufacturer and drug sponsor here in not getting the warning out."

The FDA has received 676 reports of problems resulting from the abortion drug, including three deaths, seventeen potentially fatal ectopic pregnancies, and seven women had serious infections like the one that led to the death of Holly Patterson.

That prompted the agency to revise the already significant "black box" warning label placed on the drugs to include new information highlighting the dangerous associated with the mifepristone abortion pill.

As a result of the increased security warnings on the labels, Danco indicated it would send a letter to all of its abortion drug customers highlighting the FDA label changes.