As of July 9, 2009, the New England journal of medicine reported that more and more American women who have abortions are doing so by using the abortion pills ‘RU-486’. The abortion pill causes a drug-induced miscarriage or abortion and is prompted by taking a combination of two drugs: Mifeprex and Mifepristone.
Mifeprex (RU-486) and mifepristone, a prostaglandin is given two days later to contract the uterus and expel the embryo, blocks a hormone needed to maintain pregnancy resulting in the pregnancy sac to detach from the uterine wall, therefore facilitating a miscarriage. It can only be used to terminate pregnancy in the uterus and does not affect a tubal or ectopic pregnancy. A pregnancy sac must be visible on our ultrasound before Mifeprex can be administered by the physician.
Mifeprex is a non-evasive early option for ending pregnancy, allowing you to avoid anesthesia or surgery. In most cases, it can be performed in the privacy of your own home and on your own time table. But because of the required multiple visits and high medication costs, this type of abortion is more expensive than surgical abortion. The development of mifepristone (RU-486) is an advance to reproductive medicine at the same magnitude as the development of the hormonal “contraceptive pill”.
A drug-induced miscarriage or abortion is prompted by taking a combination of two drugs: Methotrexate and Misoprostol. Methotrexate has been used as a breast cancer chemotherapy drug. It is also approved for psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. However, given the widespread availability of mifepristone in the United States, Methotrexate is used infrequently for medical procedures. Yet it is the treatment of choice for women with an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, preventing the need for the surgical removal of her fallopian tube.
Methotrexate, used in the very early first trimester, is similar to the RU-486. It works by stopping the development of rapidly developing cells and the growth of the placenta. Misoprostol is a prostaglandin that contracts the uterus to expel the pregnancy. Methotrexate should only be used by women who agreed to have a surgical abortion if the medical abortion fails, as it causes severe birth defects.
Because Methotrexate affects cells that are rapidly dividing, researchers tested it for use in termination of pregnancy. They found that when administered by injection or shot and used in combination with Misoprostol, Methotrexate effectively terminates a pregnancy 94-95% of the time. About 80% of women miscarry within three days of taking the second drug. For 16% of women, it can take as long one to four weeks to miscarry. The remaining 4% may require a surgical abortion. Methotrexate is 95% effective up to 49 days (6 weeks) from the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period, and only 89% up to 63 days.