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J Am Med Womens Assoc (1972). 2000;55(3 Suppl):133-6, 150.

Research on regimens for early medical abortion.

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UNDP/UNFPA/WHO/World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction, World Health Organization, Geneva.


Until recently the medical abortion regimen of mifepristone followed by a suitable prostaglandin analogue two days later has been available in only a few countries. Limited access to the drug has hampered research and forced investigators without access to seek alternatives. Where mifepristone has not been available, investigators have tested repeated doses of the prostaglandin misoprostol alone or in combination with methotrexate. However, these regimens cannot compete in efficacy, safety, and convenience with the mifepristone-prostaglandin regimen. The development of the mifepristone-prostaglandin regimen has continued since approval, and a more effective and better tolerated medical method than was available ten years ago can now be offered to women. Several randomized double-blind studies have demonstrated that the dose of mifepristone can be lowered to 200 mg, one-third of the original dose, without compromising efficacy. Misoprostol has now largely replaced other prostaglandin analogues in the regimen, and this has made medical abortion simpler and more cost effective. Although women prefer oral administration of drugs, recent evidence suggests that to achieve sufficient efficacy, misoprostol has to be administered vaginally in women beyond 49 days' gestation. This medical abortion regimen has proved to be acceptable to women and safe when provided under proper conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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