More DIY Medicine
Updated: Feb 22, 2020
Farhad Manjoo wrote an op-ed recently in the New York Times entitled "Abortion Pills Should Be Legal". Whether you agree or not depends on your politics. Whether the FDA agrees or not depends on politics as well - the agency placed a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) restriction on prescribing mifepristone (Mifeprex, RU-486), limiting physician's ability to prescribe it. Despite the drug (and the combination therapy with misoprostol) being considered safe and effective elsewhere, and despite an appeal from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other groups to remove the REMS, the agency continues to refuse. As abortion access is increasingly limited by political agendas in much of the US, it's hard to escape the conclusion that the FDA's action is politically, not scientifically, driven.
What ties this post together with my others is the action of the FDA. WIth vape pens and CBD, I argued that the agency had opted out of its responsibility to consumers for political reasons. Influenced by powerful lobbies, it abdicated its role under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938 - essentially the agency's charter. And here we are again, this time without access to safe drugs that have a demonstrated therapeutic purpose.
Abortion has been used for centuries, if not millennia, and it's not going away. If it can be done safely it should be. So as a necessary hack to a broken system, advocacy groups are helping women with access to generic mifepristone/misoprostol for safe at home abortions. Whatever happens with Roe v. Wade in the future, women who want and need abortion will not have to return to unsafe or unsanitary procedures to get it.
To develop his article, Manjoo bought these pills three times, through three online sources. He rejected some sources as sketchy, but found that the advocacy groups are distributing accurate information on the quality of sources.
I can't help but compare this to similar scenarios, again political to some extent, where the availability of drugs such as naltrexone for alcohol addiction and psilocybin for several psychological conditions is limited by governmental action or inaction. As consumers/patients increasingly turn to online sources for access to their meds, are we seeing the beginning of a new system - one in which the medical/pharmaceutical/governmental control strategy has broken down entirely?