India investigates dangerous rise in black market for abortion drugs
Indian authorities have noticed a sharp rise in the dissemination of abortive drugs such as mifepristone (also known as RU-486), misoprostol, and Vecredil, which are only permitted for sale by prescription, not over the counter, and even then only for cases of fetal abnormalities or threats to a mother’s life.
Officials say that three distributors alone sold as many as 6,416 packs of Vecredil in the cities of Beed and Parli Vaijanath over the past three years, which they say is troublingly high as “lethal abnormalities” only happen in one out of every 300 pregnancies.
On June 3, the Abu Dhabi-based news site the National interviewed three black-market suppliers of the abortion drugs to women in Dubai, none of whom were doctors and only one of whom claimed to have any form of medical training.
The National found that such suppliers commonly pass along dosage instructions that contradict World Health Organization recommendations and tell customers the pills are safe and effective past the fourth month of pregnancy, despite WHO guidelines stating that abortions past 63 days require inpatient treatment.
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According to gynecologist Dr. Karim Elmasry of Al Ain’s Tawam Hopsital, side effects of improper abortifacient use include excessive bleeding, infections, abdominal pain, and vaginal discharge.
However, even when taken under proper medical supervision, RU-486 can still be dangerous. As LifeSiteNews has previously reported, multiple studies attribute serious medical complications to the drug.
A 2011 report by the United States Food and Drug Administration found RU-486 was responsible for fourteen deaths and 2,207 reported “adverse effects,” which is more than double the 1,100 adverse effects found by the FDA’s 2006 report.
A study out of England found that women who have drug-induced abortions report greater pain and emotional distress than those who have surgical abortions, and an Australian study linked chemical abortions to a 5.7% rate of hospital admittance for treatment of post-abortion complications, which is dramatically higher than surgical abortion’s rate of 0.4%.
In response to the illegal trade, Indian health officials have announced plans to increase surprise inspections of clinics and pharmacies, with any chemist caught providing abortifacients without prescriptions facing suspension of his or her license.
“The aim is to sensitise chemists against its unlawful sale, educate people and initiate action against those found indulging in its unlawful sale,” said B.R. Masal, joint drug commissioner of the FDA’s Pune division. “Abortion pills or medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) pills are included in the drug inspector’s routine inspection checklist. This means that we keep a regular check to ensure that such medicines are not sold without prescription.”
Today, the Times reported that the crackdown has exposed seven stores in and around Beed which have been illegally buying, selling, and stocking abortion drugs, and finding that “many with dubious records were attached to maternity centers with licenses to carry out abortions.”
The country’s FDA intends to continue the raids in neighboring areas for several more days, though they say they do not have enough manpower to keep constant watch on the shops.
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