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Two Deaths of RU-486 Users Reported – Abortion Pills Linked to Five other Deaths – Planned Parent Hood Changes Policy

March 18th 2006

Two Deaths of RU-486 Users Reported – Abortion Pills Linked to Five other Deaths – Planned Parent Hood Changes Policy


Questions are being raised about the safety of the abortion drug RU486 (mifepristone), after two deaths were reported.  It is not clear what caused these latest deaths, but four of the five earlier deaths were the result of a rare bacterial infection called Clostridium sordellii, which can cause septic shock.  This brings the total reported deaths associated with the RU-486 to seven, out 560,000 successful abortions. 

In the four previous deaths, the second drug in the two-pill regimen was administered vaginally rather than orally.  A spokeswoman for the FDA said “All four cases were women who had received this treatment vaginally, who then all quickly reported back to their physician with very serious, rapidly spreading infection which led to sepsis and death, unfortunately."   According to Julie Rovner of NPR, the spokespeople for the FDA are not being identified by name because of personal-safety reasons due to previous threats to FDA staff.

Last fall the FDA reminded doctors that the pill was to be administered orally.  According to the FDA the second drug, misoprostol, was not formally approved for vaginal use. 


Vanessa Cullins, M.D. said there was good reason for the vaginal use that its clinics had been recommending.  She says the vaginal route has fewer side effects and enables women to have medical abortions up to 63 days.  The oral route is only approved for up to 49 days.  Cullins is Vice President for Medical Affairs for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

On Friday Planned Parenthood made some changes.  Planned Parenthood will continue to offer abortions, but now the misoprostol will be administered orally.  Cullins said “We're making this change because we're being very cautious. The health and safety of our patients is Planned Parenthood's top priority."


According to Cullins, medical abortion is much safer than carrying a pregnancy to term.  But according to Rovner, abortion opponents disagree.  Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) says the deaths for RU-486 are being underreported.  He says “It's being listed as sepsis, or some other infection. In the case of California, we might not have caught that if the coroners were not on the ball about the very serious problems of RU-486, which is just another baby pesticide that's being used.”

Sabin Russell, San Francisco Chronicle Medical Writer, says the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is convening a meeting in May to consider recent outbreaks of rare bacterial illnesses, including Clostridium sordellii, among abortion pill patients.  Russell says, in Europe, doctors use three times the dosage of mifepristone routinely prescribed in the United States, but there are no comparable infection problems reported there.   

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By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication

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Keywords and misspellings: priatal prenatal pre-natal

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:50 PM