British Abortion Business to Misuse Cancer Drug as Abortion Pill in Australia

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 3, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Abortion Business to Misuse Cancer Drug as Abortion Pill in Australia Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 3, 2006

Canberra, Australia ( — Because the dangerous abortion drug RU 486 has not yet been approved for use and sale nationwide, a British abortion business that also operates in Australia plans to misuse a cancer drug to induce abortions. Abortion practitioners have come under fire before from the Australian government and medical experts for misusing the cancer medication.

Marie Stopes International plans to use the drug methotrexate as an alternative to RU 486 in a pilot program involving 100 women in Sydney next month.

If the program is a success, the abortion business will begin giving the cancer drug to women for early-term abortions at its eight Australian abortion centers in NSW, the ACT, Queensland and Western Australia. MSI also plans to open a new abortion center in Melbourne this year.

Philip Goldstone, a senior Marie Stopes abortion practitioner who plans to head up the trial, told The Age newspaper the mifepristone abortion drug is slightly more effective than methotrexate but he said the process of getting the RU 486 abortion drug approved nationwide was "very long-winded."

Goldstone told The Age he knows that another company is planning to try to get the mifepristone abortion pill approved in the next 12 months and that MSI will use methotrexate until then.

"While we are waiting for RU 486 to become readily available methotrexate is a safe and effective alternative," he said.

However, the Australian government and medical experts disagree.

Australian Medical Association president Mukesh Haikerwal says 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 concern," 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

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists president Ken Clark said methotrexate is an "experimental option" and needs to be approved before its used and Monash University chairman of obstetrics and gynecology David Healy told The Age that methotrexate was "best left as a cancer medicine."

Meanwhile, Geoff Brodie, the medical director of Australian Birth Control Services, did 60 abortions using the methotrexate drug and reported earlier this year that two of the women needed surgical abortions because the drug failed to work properly.