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Evidence for Safety and Efficacy of Mifepristone Mounts

American Women Demand Access to Medical Breakthrough, Smeal Says

Arlington, VA -- Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal hailed the release of U.S. clinical trial results on mifepristone (formerly known as RU 486) in the new issue of the New England Journal of Medicine and called for immediate U.S. introduction of the drug.
"The Population Council study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows once again that mifepristone is a very safe, effective method of early abortion at the embryonic stage of pregnancy," said Smeal.

"As evidence of mifepristone's safety and efficacy continues to mount year after year, anti-abortion politics has kept this medical advance away from American women. A full decade ago -- in September 1988 -- women in France gained access to RU 486. When the company that developed the drug tried to remove it from the market, they were stopped by the French government which said that RU 486 'is the moral property of women.' For these ten years, anti-abortion zealots in the U.S. have held mifepristone hostage denying American women access to a proven method of early medical abortion and putting a halt to research into the drug's promise as a treatment for meningiomas (brain tumors), fibroid tumors, endometriosis, Cushing's Syndrome, and a myriad of other serious diseases and conditions that affect women's health," Smeal continued. "Can you imagine this drug, which has the potential to fight cancers, is being held up because of medical McCarthyism?"

For years, radical right-wing extremists have scared pharmaceutical companies away from producing or distributing RU 486 with threats of boycotts, harassment, and even violence. Similar pressure has deterred pharmaceutical companies from pursuing contraceptive research.

"We have known for years that mifepristone is safe and effective, and we now must bring it to market. It's tragic this drug has been kept from women," said Peg Yorkin, Chair of the Feminist Majority Foundation Board. "We urge the Population Council and their commercial partner, the Danco Group, who now control U.S. patent rights on mifepristone, to do everything in their power to immediately bring mifepristone to American women. And, it's time for us to counter the influence of anti-abortion forces over the pharmaceuticals. We must create a climate in the nation and in the pharmaceutical industry in which anti-abortion politics is not allowed to interfere with medical advances for women."

Since 1989, the Feminist Majority Foundation has led a nationwide public education campaign to make RU 486 available to women in the U.S. and worldwide as a method of early abortion and to expedite clinical trials on the drug's many promising non-abortion indications. The Feminist Majority Foundation spearheaded the drive to win support for RU 486 from almost every major medical, scientific, and women's organization in the country. The Foundation delivered over 700,000 individual petitions and 3,000 scientific petitions to the European manufacturers of RU 486. A Feminist Majority Foundation delegation of prominent feminists and scientists was the first U.S. delegation to meet with then Roussel Uclaf CEO Dr. Edouard Sakiz on mifepristone.

The Feminist Majority Foundation recently launched a new campaign to counter anti-abortion pressure on U.S. pharmaceutical companies. More information on this campaign and on mifepristone can be found at .

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