The Canadian abortion pill maker says it is increasing supply of Mifegymiso amid growing demand in that country and wonders what the impact of the cancellation of Roe v. Wade.
It comes as a sexual health provider says increasing access to the abortion pill – which can be taken up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy – will help free up resources for people who need a surgical abortion.
This includes Canadians who would normally be sent to the United States for later-stage abortions due to fetal abnormalities or risk to the mother, as well as Americans who do not have access to abortion.
Dana Tenenbaum is general manager of Canadian operations for European company Linepharma International. This is the pharmaceutical company that manufactures and distributes both the combination of mifepristone and misoprostol sold under the brand name Mifegymiso in Canada.
He said that while the company does not anticipate any shortages of abortion pills as demand increases in the United States, it is increasing its supplies to ensure it can meet Canadian demands.
“It’s really business as usual for us. That being said, we have taken steps to increase our supply forecast. But it’s really to be seen,” Tenenbaum told Global News, adding that the company is not one of the providers of the abortion pill in the US market and Canada’s supply is made in Europe.
“The reality is that people are likely to travel more state to state than they would internationally. That being said, we are once again increasing our supply forecast for, just in case, respond to this request, should it occur.
Tenenbaum added: “Canadians will be taken care of.”
Health Canada told Global News it had no reports or indications of an abortion pill shortage.
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The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned 50 years of precedent by overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that established a constitutional right to abortion in this country.
The ruling dealt a devastating blow to equality rights and indicated that the court could now turn to overturning the right to access birth control and the right to same-sex marriage.
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In the days that followed, doctors and reproductive rights advocates shared a plethora of information online about how people in states that ban abortion can still access abortion pills through the mail, which has led to an increase in search traffic for websites offering the drug.
Google Trends data shows that US search traffic for terms related to the abortion pill is on the rise, with searches for “when is the first time you can take an abortion pill” up 600%, “pill abortion fda” up 550% and “hey jane” up 1,300%.
Hey Jane is the name of an online abortion clinic that delivers the pills by mail. It’s one of many similar services gaining visibility in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling, which US President Joe Biden says doesn’t give states the power to ban the shipping of a federally regulated drug.
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Searches for “abortion pill telehealth” have increased by 300%, while “abortion pill sharing” is a small group search.
Access to abortion is ‘difficult’ in Canada, says expert
Although the United States Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction in Canada, the decision comes at a time when access to abortion in this country remains “difficult” for a variety of reasons, said Dr. Dustin Costescu.
Costescu, a sexual health specialist at McMaster University in Hamilton, pointed to the warnings that many in the field have been sounding in recent months that while abortion is legal at all stages of pregnancy in Canada, access to abortion remains a major challenge.
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It comes down to a lack of staff, a lack of funding and a lack of accessible services as health systems continue to struggle more than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
“Patients may find out they have an abnormal pregnancy later than before because they don’t have access to the diagnostic tools they need. They may not have access to contraception because they don’t have access to a primary care provider or a nurse practitioner,” he said.
“Access to abortion has become a little more difficult for us, and there is real potential for there to be further challenges for us if Americans cross the border and seek services in our country. “
Canada’s health care system and abortion services can be “easily overwhelmed,” Costescu added.
“So it will be very important for us to look at ways to ensure there is capacity in the system for our current patients and, potentially, strategies to build surgical capacity if we have more patients coming in more. later in Canada.
Canada faces its own disparities in abortion access and could struggle as a ‘safe haven’
The vast majority of abortions take place in the first trimester, with over 90% of abortions in Canada occurring before 12 weeks of gestation. Mifegymiso, the abortion pill, can be taken up to 10 weeks of pregnancy and after that point abortions must be performed surgically.
There are a limited number of providers who will perform abortions up to 24 weeks in Canada, which Costescu says typically occurs when people were unable to access abortions earlier in their pregnancy due to living in remote communities or due to health issues. emerging issues.
After 24 weeks, he said Canadian doctors generally had to send their patients to the United States.
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Part of the challenge is that anatomical scans that can identify problems with the fetus aren’t done until 20 weeks, when a pregnancy approaches the point of viability — usually around 24 weeks, Costescu explained. If an abnormality is detected, the patient is then referred for more detailed scans and specialized evaluation which may take additional weeks.
Only after these are completed can the patient decide with their doctor whether to take medication to induce a stillbirth, which Costescu says is often “traumatic”, or to have an abortion at an advanced stage. .
Time, he said, is of the essence in abortions – and any strain on the Canadian healthcare system will have ripple effects for the most vulnerable.
“A Canadian who chooses the abortion pill could allow another Canadian or even an American to have surgery, and they could have a case later,” he said.
“So we need to look at medical abortion as one of our solutions to this problem, in addition to one that we need to watch very closely to make sure we have a continuous supply.”
– with a file from Abigail Bimman of Global.
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