Fearing FDA, pharmacists say no to abortion pills

Meeting on August 23 to address concerns of sellers; pills available at a few centres after IMA intervention

For the last three weeks, pharmacists in the city have not been selling abortion pills following inspections from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which had made it compulsory for pharmacies to record details of the patient and the doctor prescribing the pills, and file a copy of the prescription.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) intervened and ensure that a few centres are identified where the prescription drugs, which are also used in prevention of gastric ulcers, inducing labour and treating post-partum haemorrhage, are available.

A meeting is scheduled on August 23 to address the concerns of pharmacists. Chemists are reluctant in stocking abortion pills fearing action by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials. FDA Joint Commissioner B R Masaal said action was taken in a major drive in June and July against pharmacies to regulate sale of abortion pills. The FDA had examined sale records and filed FIRs against more than four chemists in Pune division.

Medical abortion can be done through nine weeks of pregnancy. Up to seven weeks, a combination of mifepristone (oral) and misoprostol (oral) is about 92 per cent effective. According to gynaecologists, misoprostol is also a drug used for prevention of gastric ulcers, apart from inducing labour and treating post-partum haemorrhage. It is an important drug and its non-availability can be detrimental to patients, said Dr Sanjay Gupte, former President of the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India.

President of the city unit of the IMA Dr Bharati Dhorepatil said they received complaints from gynaecologists that the pills were not available and pointed out the matter to FDA.

FDA officials held a meeting on August 10 with chemists and doctors from the IMA. Masaal admitted that there had been a dip in sale of abortion pills and several chemists had surrendered their stock.

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