Photo: Over-the-Counter Ulcer Medication Sold in Mexico Being Used as "Abortion Pill"
An ulcer medication available from Mexico is reportedly being bought by women who are using it as an abortion pill.
Health professionals are growing increasingly worried over the rising number of women crossing into Mexico to obtain a drug known as Cytotec.
Cytotec, also known by its generic name misoprostol, an ulcer medication made by Searle (now Pfizer), is intended to be used to prevent gastric ulcers in people who take certain arthritis or pain medicines which may cause ulcers.
In 2000, due to the increase of “off label” usage, Searle distributed a letter warning against the use of the drug in pregnant women. However, rather than stopping the use, more women are using it in lieu of surgical evacuation.
Dan Grossman, an obstetrician-gynecologist, recently told the New York Times, ‘The biggest risk for these women is that it’s not going to be effective,’ saying that a woman who uses the drug, but does not terminate the pregnancy ‘could potentially have a continuing pregnancy and not get a follow-up.’
Even abortion-rights advocates have expressed concern over the use of the drug in this manner, saying lack of awareness about clinical options in the U.S. and insufficient funds could lead more women to risk their health.
Since misoprostol requires a prescription in the U.S. and is not prescribed as an abortion bill on its own, many women are crossing into Mexico to obtain the drug. However, abortion still carries a stigma in Mexico so women are often not aware of the risks because they do not speak with physicians before taking the drug, and many also forgo important follow-up care.
Should a pregnancy not be terminated, there is a much higher risk of birth defects and health issues that put both the mother and growing fetus at risk.
Despite well-circulated misinformation, Cytotec/ is not comparable to Plan B, as Plan B does not cause abortions, but rather stops an egg from attaching to the uterine wall if taken within 72 hours after intercourse, thus preventing pregnancy. It can be argued that Plan B does not end a pregnancy as misoprostol does, it prevents one.