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To arrange a media interview with Ellie Smeal or other spokespersons at Feminist Majority Foundation, contact the FMF media department at 703-522-2214.


Date: August-23-02
Contact: Emilie Karrick
Phone: (703) 522-2214

Feminist Majority Foundation Sets The Record Straight On Mifepristone

WASHINGTON, DC The Feminist Majority Foundation, which administers the nations only mifepristone compassionate use program and spearheaded the 12-year movement for FDA approval, denounces a petition filed by three anti-abortion groups seeking to revoke the Food and Drug Administrations (FDA) approval of mifepristone for early medical abortion. The Feminist Majority Foundation says that withdrawal of mifepristone approval would not only deny women the earliest effective form of medical abortion but it would also undermine research on mifepristones enormous potential for treatment of several serious illnesses including some types of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer and possibly prostate cancer; uterine fibroids; endometriosis; Cushings syndrome; Alzheimers; AIDS and depression.

It is ironic that this attack comes just two days after the California legislature approved a bill that allows greater access to mifepristone and just two weeks after the FDA announced the drug as a candidate for fast track approval in the treatment of psychotic major depression. This is the first time a psychiatric drug has ever been fast tracked by the FDA, said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. At a time when research is proving mifepristone to be effective in treating several serious illnesses, the efforts of these anti-abortion groups to take this medical breakthrough off the market is all the more outrageous.

The anti-abortion groups petition claims that mifepristone poses major health risks for women and cites six cases in which women taking Mifeprex had serious adverse events, including two deaths. However, both the FDA and Danco Laboratories have said that no causal relationship has been established between mifepristone and the adverse effects. In the two cases resulting in death, the drug administration departed from the usual FDA-approved regimen for mifepristone. One million women worldwide have safely and effectively used the FDA-approved regimen for early medical abortions in more than 26 countries worldwide including much of the European Union, Israel, Sweden and the United States.

Close to two decades worth of research and use clearly show that the health risks of mifepristone are almost non-existent especially when compared to other popular drugs. For example, more than 616 deaths have been linked to Viagra since 1998. More than 16,000 people die each year from bleeding ulcers due to medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin, said Dr. Beth Jordan, a womens health specialist and medical director of the Feminist Majority Foundation.

The FDA-sanctioned regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol for medical abortion is the earliest and safest method of abortion available. For two decades the anti-abortion movement has delayed development and research on mifepristone that could be extremely effective in treating several cancers and other serious illnesses. This is just another attempt. This petition is obviously motivated by anti-abortion ideology, not by concerns for womens health, Dr. Jordan continued.

Beginning in 1989, the Feminist Majority Foundation led the 12-year campaign to make mifepristone available in the U.S. In December of 1998, the Feminist Majority Foundation became the sole provider of mifepristone for compassionate use patients in the U.S. - physicians are able to obtain compassionate use FDA permission for treating critically ill patients who have exhausted other treatment options. The Feminist Majority Foundation is now leading the drive for the expansion of clinical trials on the multiple medical benefits of mifepristone.