On 29 July 2015, Health Canada approved the use of the medical abortion drug RU-486 (also known as Mifepristone). In Canada, RU-486 is sold under the name Mifegymiso. The medication hit the Canadian markets in January 2017. However, the uptake of medication by providers has been gradual, and therefore, not all providers are offering Mifegymiso. Here are some frequently asked questions to you navigate you understand this newly available new drug.
What is medical abortion?
Medical abortion uses medication rather than surgery to end a pregnancy. It can only be used early in a pregnancy. In Canada, it is offered up to seven weeks from the first day of your last menstrual period.
Where can I obtain a medical abortion?
Medical abortion is not widely available in Canada at the moment but is offered in some clinics and hospitals. Click here to find your nearest provider or call Action Canada’s toll-free Access Line at 1-888-642-2725.
What is Mifepristone?
Mifepristone is an anti-hormone used to end a pregnancy. The mifepristone/misoprostol regimen is on the World Health Organization’s list of essential drugs. It is considered the “gold standard” for medical abortion.
How does Mifepristone work?
Mifepristone blocks the effects of progesterone, a hormone that is needed for a pregnancy to continue. Mifepristone is usually taken with Misoprostol. Misoprostol is a prostaglandin and causes contractions of the uterus and relaxation of the cervix. This helps push out the contents of the uterus. Both mifepristone and misoprostol work together to end a pregnancy.
In Canada, Mifepristone will be packaged in a combination box, 1- Mifepristone 200Mg tablet , 4- 0.2Mg Misoprostol tablets. First a Mifepristone tablet is taken and then 24 to 48 hours later, Misoprostol tablets are taken. 4 Misoprostol tablets are taken at the same time. In Canada, the combination of the two medications will be sold under the name Mifegymiso.
Is Mifepristone/Mifegymiso safe?
Mifepristone is already available in 60 countries. Its use was approved in France and in China in 1988 (almost 30 years ago) and has maintained an outstanding safety record throughout the world. Just like surgical abortion, trained providers offer the procedure under high quality conditions, which highly diminish the risk of possible complications.
When can I use Mifegymiso?
In Canada, Mifegymiso will be prescribed up until 7 weeks gestation (or 49 days) for on-label use. Patients will be required to sign a consent form and take Mifepristone while in the presence of the prescriber. Misoprostol may be taken at home.
When will Mifegymiso become available in Canada?
Mifegymiso is now available in Canada.
Who will cover the cost?
Currently, individuals must pay out-of-pocket for Mifegymiso. Provinces and territories are looking into the possibility of covering the costs of the medication to address concerns over accessibility if medication costs are not covered. If individuals have private insurance, there is a chance Mifegymiso will be covered through their private insurance, but they should check their specific plan offerings.
If I have to pay, how much will it cost?
We are expecting Mifegymiso to cost approximately $300-$450 per package. In some instances, there may be a slight markup depending on the provider.
Do I need a prescription?
Yes. Mifegymiso will only be prescribed and distributed by trained and certified physicians in private offices, hospitals and clinics.
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