JAPAN – Linepharma to seek approval for abortion pills 

Pharmaceutical company Linepharma International will be applying to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry of Japan for approval of the combination mifepristone-misoprostol abortion pills in late December this year, says Marion Ulmann, General Manager.

According to the Japan Times, approval is expected within a year if the review process goes smoothly. Although the abortion pill was approved in France in 1988 and the pills, mainly misoprostol alone, have been in use in most countries around the world ever since as the news of their existence spread.

There were some 140,000 abortions in Japan in 2020, almost all using the outdated surgical procedure called dilatation and curettage (D&C), which requires general anaesthesia and an overnight stay in hospital, and dilation and evacuation (D&E) for later abortions.

These procedures are not covered by health insurance, and the cost is very high, between ¥100,000 and ¥200,000. In contrast, data from the World Health Organization show the average price of the abortion pills is only about ¥740.

The WHO recommends both medical abortion pills, manual and electric vacuum aspiration, and D&E as the safest and most effective methods. They have said D&C is “outdated and should not be performed.”

SOURCES: The-Japan-News, by Yomiuri Shimbun, 21 November 2021 ; E-mail from Marion Ulmann, Visual from Linepharma in The Japan News.