CANADA – A nationwide shortage of abortion pills expected

Linepharma, the manufacturer of Mifegymiso, the brand of abortion pill available in Canada, says the supply chain is to blame for the second shortage of pills in three months. A second nationwide shortage is expected to have begun by 20 February and to last two weeks. A longer shortage in 2022 forced some patients to get aspiration abortions instead.

Mifegymiso greatly opened up abortion access in Canada as the pills can be prescribed by a family doctor and provided by a pharmacy up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy. Linepharma, the sole supplier of the pills in Canada, blamed delivery delays, manufacturing constraints and shortages of the active ingredients used to make the two types of pill.

Linepharma is a UK company. The pills are manufactured through a third-party facility in Spain. Linepharma’s general manager in Canada described the pills as “still a very niche product”. The company supplies 50,000 to 80,000 doses per year to Canada.

“When our hands are tied, it’s really frustrating to not be able to give the standard of care,” said Dr Emily Stuart, an abortion provider on Vancouver Island. Abortion providers across Canada told CBC News they are stockpiling their own supplies and sharing them with others. Health Canada told CBC News they did not expect the shortage to affect patients this time around.

SOURCE: CBC News, by Marina von Stackelberg, 17 February 2023