Australia Government to Investigate Misuse of Cancer Drug as Abortion Pill

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 8, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Government to Investigate Misuse of Cancer Drug as Abortion Pill Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 8, 2006

Canberra, Australia ( — As the Australian parliament is ready to vote on whether to legalize the use of the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug, the nation’s leading health official says he’s going to investigate the misuse of a cancer drug as an abortion pill.

Health Minister Tony Abbott has directed his staff to look into the use of methotrexate by some doctors to induce a chemical abortion. The practice is alarming the Australian Medical Association because the drug is not meant for that purpose.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Geoff Brodie, the medical director of Australian Birth Control Services, has done 60 abortions using the drug.

He’s been using a loophole in Australia’s drug law that allows doctors to prescribe drugs outside their intended use as long as patients consent to using it for the unintended purpose.

The drug is currently in use in Australia only an anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer medication.

"That’s something that I’m asking my officials to have a look at," he told Southern Cross Broadcasting. "It’s quite complex legally, and that’s why I’m seeking advice on the whole matter."

"I want to make sure that it’s not being used outside the law, and if it it’s being used outside the law I’ll see what action can or should be taken," he added.

AMA president Mukesh Haikerwal told the Herald newspaper he is concerned about the off-label use of the drug.

"A drug that’s being used for a purpose that it’s not registered, it would certainly cause significant concen," he said. "Because obviously there is a license for which the drug is there to be used for, and if it’s used for other things it then becomes problematic."

"You’ve got to have a scientific basis for using it and need to make sure processes are properly adhered to because then that gives patients some degree of security about what’s going on and it gives some protection for the doctor who’s using that medication," he explained to the Sydney newspaper.

Abortion practitioners have also misused another anti-cancer drug, called Cytotec, to cause abortions. The maker of that drug, Searle, has issued warnings in both the United States and Australia that the misuse is dangerous for women.