Lift the ban on RU486

November 27, 1990|By --Newsday

FOR REASONS that have nothing to do with abortion, the French abortion pill, RU486, has been hailed as nothing less than a wonder drug. Evidence is strong that it can combat harm

produced by hormones implicated in breast and brain cancer, diabetes, glaucoma, hypertension and Cushing's syndrome. It may have application to treatment for AIDS. So it's idiotic, if not criminal, to put it off limits to American researchers.

The Food and Drug Administration issued an "import alert" against the drug last year on the grounds that it's a health hazard. Tell that to a terminal cancer patient whose physician might try it as a last resort.

The ban can be explained only in terms of the Bush administration's perceived need to make a blatant gesture to the anti-abortion lobby, which fears its use as an abortion drug.

The FDA should be supporting medical research, not placing obstacles in its path. After admitting that the import alert was wrongheaded, it should not delay in lifting the ban. That's a signal the manufacturer might respond to positively. American scientists deserve to be on the cutting edge of research, not left behind. Nor should potential benefits be needlessly withheld from people sufferin g from deadly and debilitating conditions.

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