A short history and the present status of mifepristone in the U.S.
September 28, 2015 marks the fifteenth anniversary of the FDA approval of mifepristone (also known as RU-486 or “the abortion pill”) for use in the United States. This medication, when used in combination with another drug, misoprostol, in early pregnancy will induce an abortion. As with all medical matters pertaining to abortion, the availability of mifepristone has always been entangled with abortion politics. The story of mifepristone, in the U.S. and elsewhere, is therefore one of both determined pushback by antiabortion forces and remarkable resilience by equally determined abortion rights advocates.
The drug was initially developed in France, but the German firm that held the patent, Hoechst AG, refused to produce it, because of boycott threats from the U.S. antiabortion movement; in a stirring development, however, in 1988 the French government forced the French subsidiary of the firm to do so, declaring the drug, in the words of the French Minister of Health, “the moral property of women.” (more…)