FDA Meeting Expands Probe Beyond Abortion Drug, Focuses on Infections

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 11, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

FDA Meeting Expands Probe Beyond Abortion Drug, Focuses on Infections Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 11, 2006

Atlanta, GA (LifeNews.com) — A joint meeting with FDA and CDC officials investigating why five women have died over the last three years from the dangerous abortion drug RU 486 deviated some from its initial goal of probing just the cause of the abortion deaths. Still, health experts say the deaths and injuries are a significant cause for concern.

The meeting was initially called to discuss the lethal Clostridium sordellii bacteria that the abortion drug activated and is responsible for the women’s death.

In addition, officials discussed a second bacteria and also focused on deaths and infections among pregnant women and those who were having surgeries or other medical procedures and not simply using drugs such as the abortion pill.

According to a Reuters report, Paul Seligman, associate director for safety policy at the FDA, said he’s unsure why women are having problems from the infections.

"What we do know is that in this country we are seeing the simultaneous emergence of two virulent, often fatal illnesses affecting otherwise healthy people," he said at the meeting.

Seligman said thousands of cases of both bacteria occur in the United States annually and indicated most cause side effects like diarrhea but it is normally treatable. However, lately, it has been more difficult to treat.

"Over the past few years the picture has changed," Seligman said, according to Reuters.

Still, one expert invited to testify, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center gynecologist James McGregor, said the abortion drug is contributing to the infections and he said the FDA should "reduce or eliminate" its use.

Pro-life groups agreed that the drug should be takenoff the market because it is dangerous for women.

"Healthy women who have taken these pills have already died, and hundreds more have suffered serious adverse events. What further evidence do we need to tell us this drug is not safe and ought to be pulled from the market?" Dr. Randall O’Bannon, director of education and research for National Right to Life, said.

Seligman said it would take time to "develop a realistic set of expectations" about what actions, if any, the FDA would take about the abortion drug.

Most experts told the FDA-CDC panel that the abortion drug and the infections require further studies.

"We clearly need controlled trials," Gerding, an associate chief of staff at Hines Veterans Affairs Hospital in Illinois, said, according to the Reuters report.

Before the meeting, Dr. Phillip G. Stubblefield, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University, told the New York Times that he thinks the use of the abortion drug vaginally, instead of orally, may be a factor in the infections.

"The tablets are small, and women don’t necessarily know where their vagina begins and ends," he said. He indicated some women may be dragging them over the space between their vagina and rectum and inadvertently inserting bacteria into their vagina.

Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion business, has come under fire throughout the discussion of the abortion drug deaths because it was deviating from FDA protocols by telling women to use the drug vaginally.

Three of the four women who died in California from the abortion drug, including teenager Holly Patterson, were found to have the bacteria in their vaginas after their deaths. A fifth woman, who died in Colorado, appeared to have had the infection caused from the abortion drug as well.

Once the FDA announced the death of the unnamed Colorado woman, Planned Parenthood revised its procedures and is now following the FDA’s advise to use the drug orally.

Problems associated with the abortion drug have led some abortion practitioners to stop using it.

The Times reports that Peter Bours of Portland, an abortion practitioner who is a member of the National Abortion Federation, a trade group of abortion businesses, won’t use the drug. He said the potential increase in medical malpractice premiums because of the problems makes it a financial disincentive to use it.

"I’m not sure I want to be in a shared insurance group policy with people doing medical procedures because you share that risk," Bours said.

Six women have died in the United States due to the abortion drug, with the first in Tennessee when a woman with an unconfirmed ectopic pregnancy died. Five other women have died internationally with one in Canada, two in the U.K., one in France and one in Sweden.

In the U.S. alone, the FDA has documented over 950 reports of medical problems and complications associated with the abortion drug. Many were life-threatening and some cases required blood transfusions, hospitalization or surgery.