How RU-486 works

September 19, 1996|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

RU-486 is actually two drugs, mifepristone, used in combination with misoprostol, and must be taken under a physician's supervision.

Essentially, mifepristone induces a miscarriage by blocking the hormone progesterone, which is necessary to maintain a pregnancy.

In a doctor's office, the woman takes three 200-milligram tablets of mifepristone, and returns two days later for two 200-milligram tablets of misoprostol, which causes uterine contractions. She remains for four hours, under observation, to ensure against possible adverse side effects, such as excessive bleeding, nausea and cramping.

Within 24 hours, if the combination is successful, the embryo is expelled, as in a miscarriage. If the regimen fails, a surgical abortion would be necessary. In two French studies involving 2,480 women, no more than seven weeks pregnant, RU-486 worked in about 19 out of 20 cases.

The drug's cost will be set by the manufacturer. It is expected to run about $300, which is similar to the cost of a surgical procedure.

Pub Date: 9/19/96

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