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Contraception. 2006 Nov;74(5):394-9. Epub 2006 Jul 17.

Pharmacy provision of medical abortifacients in a Latin American city.

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Population Council, Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mexico City 04000, Mexico.



Access to legal abortion services is restricted in Latin America. Nonetheless, previous research suggest that women frequently use misoprostol to self-induce abortion. In many settings, women obtain the medication from a pharmacy. This study was conducted to better understand pharmacy staff knowledge and provision practices of misoprostol and other medical abortifacients.


We first interviewed staff at a random sample of 102 pharmacies in a Latin American city. Mystery clients were subsequently sent to the same pharmacies to ascertain prescribing practices and counseling.


Nearly half of the pharmacy staff interviewed reported that they were familiar with at least one abortifacient, and an abortifacient was recommended in 74% of the mystery client encounters. Hormonal injections were most frequently recommended as abortifacients in the survey (67%) and the mystery client encounters (71%), followed by misoprostol (60% and 39%, respectively). Few of the pharmacy staff (6% in the survey and 17% in the mystery client encounters) recommended a misoprostol dosing regimen that is potentially effective.


Abortifacient provision is common at pharmacies but knowledge about medications is low among pharmacy staff.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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