Japan Health Ministry Panel OK’s Abortion Pill

A patient prepares to take Mifepristone, the first medication in a medical abortion, at Alamo Women’s Clinic in Carbondale, Illinois, on Thursday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A subcommittee of the Japanese health ministry’s Pharmaceutical Affairs and Food Sanitation Council on Friday approved an abortion pill developed by Britain’s Linepharma International Ltd.

The drug, Mefeego Pack, is expected to receive formal approval soon to become Japan’s first oral abortion pill.

In January, an expert panel under the subcommittee approved the drug, but the ministry decided to have the subcommittee discuss the matter after hearing public comments.

The subcommittee was initially scheduled to hold discussions in March, but the talks were postponed due to the time needed to analyze as many as about 12,000 comments from the public, around two-thirds of which were in favor of approving the pill.

Oral abortion pills are currently available in at least 65 countries and regions. France was the first to approve such a pill in 1988.

In Japan, abortions have been usually performed with metal instruments. As this procedure is invasive, medical experts and others are calling for the introduction of abortion pills in Japan.