USA – US FDA asked to shut down anti-abortion websites promoting unsafe “abortion pill reversal”

Three US anti-abortion groups’ websites have been identified that claim – falsely – that it is possible to reverse the effects of the abortion pill. The Campaign for Accountability is a US non-partisan, non-profit watchdog organisation that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life. They have asked the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) to seize the website domains and shut down this group of websites because what they call “abortion pill reversal” has not been shown in research or evidence to work and is not FDA-approved. In fact, in December 2019, research was published by pro-choice doctors showing that the process they promote is not only unproven but potentially dangerous.

But where are the FDA’s politics these days? The letter was sent to the FDA on 20 May 2020. FDA officials acknowledged it and referred it to their Office of Drug Security, Integrity, and Response. However, by 17 June, when the article summarised here was published, an FDA spokesperson had told FairWarning that the agency didn’t have anything to share in response.

The FDA’s current regulations on abortion pills, instituted 20 years ago, are far stricter than what is medically necessary. The agency’s regulations limit where and how the drug is dispensed. Even if it is prescribed remotely, patients must travel to a hospital or medical office and physically sign a form in the presence of their healthcare provider in order to obtain the pill. Yet this does not apply to mifepristone when it is prescribed for uses other than abortion.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has long opposed the FDA’s restrictions on mifepristone, arguing that they are not based on any medical requirement. In May, ACOG sued the FDA, arguing that the requirements to pick up the mifepristone pill in person are likely to put patients and providers at greater risk of Covid-19, especially those who have to travel to a clinic using public transport. The ACOG say the FDA has “singled out” abortion patients “for a special barrier to telehealth care”. They received support in an amicus brief from Attorneys General of 22 states and the District of Columbia.

SOURCE: Fairwarning, by Stephanie Russell-Kraft, 17 June 2020 ; Campaign for Accountability press release, 20 May 2020 ; Letter to the FDA, 20 May 2020

…while awaiting the Supreme Court judgment later this week