Japan to Decide on 1st Abortion Pills in March at Earliest

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Health ministry is expected to decide whether to approve the country’s first abortion pills at a panel meeting as early as March.

If the product, made up of two types of pills, is approved at the ministry’s panel on drugs, it would increase abortion options in Japan, where surgery is the main method to terminate pregnancy. But some experts point to such issues as the drug cost, which is expected to be higher than overseas.

Japan is screening Mefeego Pack, for which Linepharma K.K., a Japanese arm of British pharmaceutical company Linepharma International Ltd., is seeking manufacturing and marketing approval.

The product combines mifepristone, which curbs the effects of progesterone, a hormone key to continuing a pregnancy, and misoprostol, which causes the uterus to contract.

According to the ministry, abortion pills are available in at least 65 economies. The first of its kind was approved in France in 1988.

In Japan, the curettage method using metal instruments is usually employed.