Canada has been facing an abortion pill shortage. Here’s what to know – National

Canada has been facing an abortion pill shortage. Here’s what to know – National

According to the drug’s maker, Canada has been facing shortages of mifegymiso, the two-drug combination commonly known as the abortion pill – although supplies are expected to be available next week.

People who could become pregnant have not had access to the abortion pill in some parts of the country for two weeks, according to a spokesman for the pharmaceutical company Linepharma.

Linepharma manufactures mifepristone and misoprostol, which are sold together under the brand name Mifegymiso in Canada.

“Linepharma is aware that there is a supply shortage of Mifegymiso and that some parts of the country have not had access to the product for the past two weeks,” a company spokesman said.

“There are several reasons that have contributed to this but most importantly Linepharma has experienced extended manufacturing delays which will be taken into account going forward… production of the combination Mifegymiso regimen has been increased and the product will be available again next week. “

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The delay resulted from several issues that the company says were coming to a head “simultaneously.”

“This is a very niche product that cannot be manufactured in the same quantities as most pharmaceuticals. So if there is a delay, it is felt acutely,” the spokesman said.

“The manufacturing facility made changes to move from a manual to a more automated process. We have not yet fully phased out the manual process that contributed to these delays.”

The abortion pill can be taken up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy and can help free up resources for people who need or prefer surgical abortion.

But every day without access to the abortion pill can push people out the window of access to a non-surgical abortion. And for people who crossed the 10-week pregnancy mark during this two-week abortion pill shortage, the logistical hurdles to access abortion treatments are growing.

“There is a short window of opportunity to access mifegymiso for an abortion,” said Frédérique Chabot, director of health promotion at Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights.

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“If that means someone is outside of their window of opportunity to have access to a medical abortion, after those two weeks, they may have to travel hundreds of miles to get to a center that can provide a surgical abortion.”

That means “spending, it means travel, it means leaving your community,” Chabot added.

“It really makes access difficult for a lot of people and reduces opportunities for people.”

Additionally, the timing of the recent shortage means access to abortion treatment could be delayed by another week — even if the product does return to pharmacy and clinic shelves.

“Many facilities will be closed between Christmas and the New Year starting this week, and a delay now could impact the New Year,” said Jill Doctoroff, executive director of the National Abortion Federation (NAF).

Meanwhile, she said in the past two weeks alone, the shortage has already “absolutely” taken a toll on people seeking abortion treatment.

Doctoroff said she has received calls from abortion providers to explore other non-surgical abortion options for her patients in light of the mifegymiso shortage.

There are pregnant people in communities across Canada who “just can’t wait,” Doctoroff explained.

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This isn’t the first time concerns have been raised about a shortage of Mifegymiso.

Linepharma is the main manufacturer and distributor of the abortion pill for the Canadian market, and the company confirmed to Global News in June that it could increase supplies for Canadians amid growing demand in that country and the question of the Roe v US case.

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Dana Tenenbaum, general manager of the company’s Canadian operations, said Linepharma is not one of the suppliers of the abortion pill to the US market and that Canada’s offering is manufactured in Europe.

Reproductive health professionals say recent supply problems have forced them to scramble.

“In our region, we have been able to find (Mifegymiso) for our customers in pharmacies that carry stock and have not been as badly affected by the shortage. But it means more navigation for our team,” said TK Pritchard, managing director of The Shore Centre, a reproductive health clinic in Waterloo.

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“We have bigger challenges with the rural customers we support, where there are simply fewer pharmacies, and in communities where there are no pharmacies that stock (mifegymiso).”

Pritchard said their understanding is that Linepharma “will have stock back by Monday.”

“We are confident that the problem will be resolved,” they said.

A few hours later, Pritchard added that the pharmacies in Waterloo and Kitchener ran out of mifegymiso for the clinic to access.

“We’ve had to send people to neighboring cities and we’re running out of options there, too,” they said.

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Chabot and Doctoroff both expressed concern that a company’s production delays could so easily impact access to abortion in Canada.

“We see problems with pharmacies carrying (the abortion pill) even when there are no shortages,” Chabot said.

“This is something that needs to be addressed. It should be supported by all pharmacies in all communities.”

Doctoroff echoed the concern.

“It’s an essential part of our healthcare system to have this drug and so we need to have adequate supplies,” she said.

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“I know there are a lot of pharmacies across the country that don’t stock it.”

One in three people who can get pregnant will have an abortion in their lifetime, according to Chabot — and yet abortion is “not treated as the usual procedure” that it is.

“We are seeing a collapse of systems here that will have a major impact on people,” she added.

– With files from Amanda Connolly of Global News

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