An advisory panel of the health ministry in Japan has given its approval for the manufacturing and sale of an oral abortion pill called “Mefeego”. The pill, developed by British pharmaceutical company Linepharma International Ltd., could become available for purchase as early as this spring. Currently, early-stage abortions in Japan can only be performed through surgical procedures. Mefeego is expected to provide a new option for women seeking abortion, with the potential to reduce both physical and mental stress.
- After gathering public opinion and debating the issue carefully, the pharmaceutical subcommittee at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare approved the manufacturing and marketing of the pill
- It can terminate pregnancies of up to 63 days (9 weeks) by blocking a pregnancy hormone and stimulating uterine contractions. There were concerns raised about possible side effects and the price of the pill.
- A clinical trial conducted in Japan involving 120 women who chose to undergo abortion revealed that 93% of them had successful terminations within 24 hours of taking the pill.
- The pill package contains two drugs – mifepristone and misoprostol, both of which are listed in the World Health Organization’s Essential Medicines List.
- It is designed to be taken orally within the first nine weeks of pregnancy, but can only be administered at medical institutions.
- Abortion pills have been available for almost 30 years, with France being the first country to approve them in 1988. The pills are currently available in 80 countries, according to Linepharma.
- In Japan, the Maternal Health Act requires spousal consent for abortions, which can limit access to the procedure. The law will also apply to abortion pills, according to the health ministry.
- Currently, surgical procedures in the early stages of pregnancy are allowed for abortion in Japan. These procedures cost around ¥100,000 to ¥200,000 (around $730 to $1,500).