Australia Abortion Practitioner Says Company Wants to Sell RU 486 Drug

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 18, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Abortion Practitioner Says Company Wants to Sell RU 486 Drug Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 18, 2006

Canberra, Australia ( — An Australia abortion practitioner says that she knows a foreign company that plans to file an application with the government to sell the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug there. The abortion pill has already been responsible for the deaths of 12 women worldwide, including those in the U.S., Canada, England, Sweden and France.

Abortion practitioner Caroline De Costa became the first to be able to sell the abortion drug to women considering an abortion. However, the drug is sold only to women at her facility and not nationwide.

De Costa told the Australia Broadcast Corporation that a pharmaceutical company is seeking approval to distribute the drug. But she’s unwilling to name the company, which apparently already sells drugs in Australia.

"They are a company who apply in the usual way to market the drug," she said. "They are a company who already market other drugs in Australia."

The drugs de Costa is giving to women at her abortion center come from a New Zealand supplier that has a contract with the French maker of the drug, Exelgyn.

The abortion drug became legal in Australia after the nation’s parliament stripped Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott of the regulatory authority over the drug. It gave oversight to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which approved de Costa’s request to sell the drug.

The TGA gave de Costa an approval to sell the abortion pills for three months, but the decision is renewable at the end of the time period.

Earlier this month, a British abortion business that also operates in Australia plans to misuse a cancer drug to induce abortions.

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.