RU-486 (The “Abortion Pill”)
The so-called “abortion pill” is actually a combination therapy consisting of two medications.
- The first medication, called mifepristone, is a pill you take at the abortion clinic. This medication blocks the essential reproductive hormone, progesterone, initiating endometrial erosion. This means the growing placenta and fetus are broken away from the lining of your uterus depriving your baby of the oxygen and nutrients he or she needs to survive.
- The second medication, called misoprostol, is taken 1 to 2 days after mifepristone and causes the dilation of your cervix and induces contractions, cramping and heavy bleeding as your baby is expelled from your uterus. Most women abort within 4 to 5 hours of taking misoprostol, but severe bleeding and cramping can continue for several weeks. You may see large blood clots and fetal tissue/parts discharged from your vagina as the abortion takes place.
As with many new drugs, once they are marketed and used in thousands or even millions of individuals it is more likely that rare adverse effects or major complications can occur. Some of these adverse effects range in severity from minor to life threatening. In 2016, the FDA reported that there had been reports of a women who suffered from infection, heart attacks, and death.
As with all approved drugs, when the FDA receives new information regarding adverse events, the agency reviews the new information and, as appropriate, provides updates to doctors and their patients so that they have information on how to use the drug safely.