The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has registered mifepristone, an abortion drug, for wider use in Australia.
Previously, only a handful of doctors in Australia were authorised to import the drug for prescription, and major pharmaceutical companies had been reluctant to import the drug for distribution to Australia because of cost pressures.
MS Health, which is a pharmaceutical subsidiary, will now be importing and regulating distribution of mifepristone. Doctors who complete a training course will may now directly prescribe the drug for collection from local pharmacies
Mifepristone, which is also known as RU486, is used for terminating pregnancies up to 49 days after gestation.
Tight regulation of the drug has previously hindered the ability of women to undergo an abortion, due to financial and geographic barriers, said ANUSA Women’s Officer Renee Jones.
“It’s an incredibly safe procedure. Choice over reproductive rights is a human right, and it has long been a human right,” she said.
Previously, only 187 doctors in Australia, mostly located in cities, had been registered to seek approval for prescribing mifepristone. “There was no equity of access for women in rural and remote areas,” NSW Family Planning director Dr Deborah Bateson wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald.
“This decision means true access for women,” said Ms Jones. Many cannot conveniently afford to travel to cities and visit private health clinics, she added.
Opponents of mifepristone have associated the drug with serious health risks from sepsis and a lower success rate relative to other abortion methods.
The pharmacists in Canberra contacted by Woroni said they were unsure when mifepristone would be supplied in pharmacies.