Your editorial ("No Need for Separate Testing," March 19) misses the point of my proposal for state tests and state licensing of the French abortion pill RU 486.
The main reason there's been no application from the manufacturer, and no license from the manufacturer to an American company, is because of the hostile regulatory climate at the Food and Drug Administration. That's why the California Medical Assn. unanimously condemned "non-medical political pressure" as the reason for the unavailability of RU 486 in the United States.
The issue is not so much the need for additional testing of a drug that has already been studied--though further tests may well be required to fully establish its safety. The issue is taking the necessary steps to make RU 486 available to American women who choose to use it. That is not likely to happen unless there's a positive regulatory climate which both encourages applications and promises decisions made on medical merits, rather than political pressure. That's the point of my proposal.
Your statement that the FDA has handled its responsibilities "in an impressive fashion" misstates the facts. It was because of the FDA's notoriously slow, almost obstructionist, approach to testing experimental AIDS drugs that I sponsored legislation in 1987 to create a state process for testing and approval. It has worked well, both on its own terms and as a spur to faster action by the FDA.