The Japanese subsidiary of the British pharmaceutical company Linepharma International Ltd. is expected to apply this month to the Department of Health for approval of its abortion pills.
The use of abortion pills has not been approved in Japan, although they are used in many countries.
The pills, which are expected to be approved in about a year if things go well, would offer Japanese women a less painful and safer way to have an abortion.
Linepharma will seek approval of mifepristone, which blocks the effects of progesterone, a key hormone necessary for continued pregnancy, and misoprostol, which causes the uterus to contract.
According to Linepharma, the two drugs were approved in France in 1988 and are now used in more than 70 countries.
After the pills were given to 120 women up to nine weeks pregnant in clinical trials in Japan, 93% of recipients had a successful abortion within 24 hours. Almost 60% of recipients had symptoms such as upset stomach and vomiting, but most were mild. The efficacy and safety of the pills have therefore been confirmed in trials.
In Japan, there were approximately 145,000 abortions in 2020. Abortions in Japan are mainly performed through a procedure called dilation and curettage, which removes tissue from inside the uterus using metal equipment. .
Abortion in early pregnancy is not covered by health insurance, costing women 100,000 to 200,000. In addition, abortion comes with a high rate of complications such as infectious diseases.
The World Health Organization has said medical abortion has been confirmed to be safe and effective. The WHO added that dilation and curettage is a dangerous and outdated abortion procedure, strongly recommending changes to safer methods, such as using pills.
In order for both Linepharma pills to have the desired effects, it is essential that they are used correctly. In the past, a woman had health problems after personally importing the pills from the Internet.
Before the drugs are used in practice in Japan, there are issues to be addressed, such as how medical institutions should prescribe the pills to ensure that they are taken correctly.
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