05 Jan Abortion Pill: Canadian Study Finds No Increase in Complications After Removing Restrictions
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Laura Schummers, ScD (she/her/hers)
Postdoctoral Fellow, Contraception and Abortion Research Team
CIHR Patient-Oriented Research Leadership Fellow
Post-doctoral Trainee, ICES McMaster
UBC – Department of Family Practice | Women’s Health Research Institute
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Canada was the first country in the world to remove all supplemental restrictions on the dispensing and administration of mifepristone, making the drug available as a normal prescription. This meant that the abortion pill could be prescribed by any doctor or nurse practitioner, dispensed by any pharmacist, and taken by patients when, where and if they choose.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Our study found that prescribing the abortion pill as a normal prescription—without restrictions—is safe and effective. The evidence shows that there was no increase in abortion-related health complications following availability of mifepristone as a normal prescription in Canada.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Our study is the strongest evidence yet that it is safe and effective to provide the abortion pill without restrictions.
This study is a signal to other countries that restrictions on the abortion pill are not necessary to ensure safety and effectiveness.
There is no scientific justification for restrictions on the abortion pill, which only make it harder for people to access the care they need.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Our study paints the most comprehensive picture of abortion safety to date. We used comprehensive government health data to examine 315,000 abortions between 2012 and 2020 in Ontario—a province of more than 14 million people. We were able to complete a robust safety profile for the entire province by linking together health records from all practitioner visits, hospital visits and outpatient prescriptions. This study captures any setting where an abortion complication would present, and therefore, very clearly demonstrates that it is safe to prescribe the abortion pill without restrictions.
I have no disclosures to report.
Abortion Safety and Use with Normally Prescribed Mifepristone in Canada.
Laura Schummers, Sc.D., Elizabeth K. Darling, Ph.D., Sheila Dunn, M.D., Kimberlyn McGrail, Ph.D., Anastasia Gayowsky, M.Sc., Michael R. Law, Ph.D.,
Tracey-Lea Laba, Ph.D., Janusz Kaczorowski, Ph.D., and Wendy V. Norman, M.D., M.H.Sc.
December 8, 2021 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsa2109779
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Last Updated on January 5, 2022 by Marie Benz MD FAAD