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Japan’s 1st Oral Abortion Option up for Approval

Courtesy of Linepharma
The abortion drugs mifepristone and misoprostol

Experts on Friday will deliberate whether to approve an oral, two-drug combination to induce an abortion for the first time in Japan, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has announced.

In Japan, the practice of abortion has been limited to surgery, and if the ministry’s expert committee approves the oral combination, it may provide a less burdensome option for women.

In late December 2021, the British pharmaceutical company Linepharma applied for approval to manufacture and market the medications as Mefeego Pack in Japan. The two drugs used in combination are mifepristone, a drug to block the hormone progesterone, which is needed to sustain a pregnancy, and misoprostol, a drug that causes the uterus to contract.

In clinical trials in Japan, 93% of 120 pregnant women seeking abortion at up to 63 days of gestation were able to abort within 24 hours by using the medications. Although 60% of the patients had symptoms such as abdominal pain and vomiting, most of them had mild or moderate symptoms.

Although abortion pills have been used overseas for more than 30 years, they have not been approved in Japan, where the debate on the introduction of the pills has stalled partly due to negative attitudes toward abortion.