RU 486: headed for the United States?Late last month, Roussel Uclaf, a French pharmaceutical firm, agreed to give up U.S. patent rights to the abortion pill abortion pill See Contragestive, Oral contraceptive, RU-486. known as RU 486 (mifepristone Mifepristone Definition
Mifepristone is a pill that can be taken as an alternative to a surgical abortion.
This medication most often is used for ending early pregnancies. ). Roussel donated the drug's U.S. rights to the Population Council, a nonprofit contraceptive research group based in New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. . The move is expected to pave the way for marketing the pill in the United States. RU 486 is widely available in France, Britain, Germany, and Sweden.
Roussel had been reluctant to bring RU 486 to the United States because of opposition by the antiabortion an·ti·a·bor·tion
Opposed to induced abortion: the antiabortion movement.
an movement. The Clinton administration is credited with urging the French firm to work out an agreement with the Population Council.
Officials at the council say they will begin conducting clinical trials of RU 486, a step necessary to gaining Food and Drug Administration approval. The council is already searching for a drug company to manufacture and distribute the drug in the United States. Despite the controversial nature of the pill, the group has already received calls from interested pharmaceutical firms, says the Population Council's Sandra Waldman.
RU 486 works by blocking the action of progesterone progesterone (prōjĕs`tərōn'), female sex hormone that induces secretory changes in the lining of the uterus essential for successful implantation of a fertilized egg. , a hormone required to maintain pregnancy. Women must return to their doctor's office within 48 hours of taking the drug to get a dose of prostaglandin prostaglandin (prŏs'təglăn`dən), any of a group of about a dozen compounds synthesized from fatty acids in mammals as well as in lower animals. , which triggers the expulsion of the embryo or fetus.
The drug still faces formidable opposition. This week, a coalition of antiabortion groups launched a campaign to keep this drug from being marketed in the United States.