Planned Parenthood Ottawa calling for easier access to abortion pill

Planned Parenthood Ottawa calling for easier access to abortion pill

Planned Parenthood Ottawa says an abortion pill called Mifegymiso, which has been legal to prescribe since July 2016, is still to hard for many women to access.

Mifegymiso is a two-step abortion process, which involves taking separate medications: mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone, while misoprostol induces a miscarriage.

Catherine Mcnab, executive director of Planned Parenthood Ottawa, said the pill is only available at one doctor's office in Ottawa .

"Right now, there's just one provider in Ottawa, who you might be able to find online or you might have to call Planned Parenthood to find out where you can get it," she told Alan Neal, host of CBC Radio's All in a Day.

"You have to do an ultrasound and some bloodwork and then they're dispensing the drug from the clinic ," she said adding a dose of the treatment costs $425.

"You take it under the supervision of the physician and then you go home and within a couple of days you take the second dose."

Mcnab said the ideal situation would be for the abortion pill to be treated like any other drug.

"You learn you're pregnant, you make an appointment with your family doctor, you go to the doctor, they prescribe the pill, you take it to the pharmacist, they dispense it, you go home and take it."

Mcnab said Mifegymiso is available through pharmacies in other parts of the world — but not anywhere else in Canada.

College of Pharmacists wants to distribute  

Regulations require a six-hour training course before a physician can prescribe the drug and they alone can dispense it.

"Most physicians don't have the set-up in their office to do that, not to mention that it costs hundreds of dollars. So how do they invest to keep it in stock?" Mcnab said.

On Tuesday the Ontario College of Pharmacists released a letter saying pharmacists should be able to dispense Mifegymiso.

Planned Parenthood Ottawa also has a petition to have Ontario Health Insurance, OHIP, cover the cost of the drug.

"If somebody can't afford to buy the pill, what they'll do is they'll wait and get a surgical abortion, which is covered by OHIP — not 100 per cent, there's a chance they might have to buy some antibiotics," said Mcnab.

"It's a lot more invasive to have a surgical abortion...It's not really a matter of comparing the costs, a medical abortion has costs too."

In Canada, Mifegymiso is approved for use in the first seven weeks of pregnancy.

Despite appearing on the World Health Organization's "list of essential medicines,"Health Canada only received an application for approval from the manufacturer in 2012.

It took the federal agency three years to approve the drug.