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April 23, 1993

In arguing for improved conventional abortion services instead of RU-486 access Janice Raymond ("RU-486: Miracle Drug Turns Nasty," Commentary, April 11) grossly distorts the medical facts on this drug.

As she notes, RU-486 is part of a two-drug "cocktail" when used as an abortifacient. When the New England Journal, perhaps, the most respected medical publication in America, published a major study on the treatment in March of 1990, it editorialized that the combination was "safe and effective for the termination of early pregnancy if administered under proper medical supervision." The side effects that so alarm Raymond were experienced by a minority of patients in the study and "were usually mild and did not necessitate any treatment."

Raymond should realize that the list of contraindications to RU-486 that she cites has been dictated less by medical facts than by the manufacturer's fear that any potential side effects or bad outcomes would be seized upon by abortion opponents to attack the drug's safety. Raymond somehow forgets to acknowledge that over 100,000 French women have safely terminated pregnancies with RU-486.

Like many opponents of the drug, Raymond fails to appreciate that RU-486 is a new treatment that will continue to improve in safety and effectiveness as the dosing and composition of the "cocktail" are refined. The advantage of the drug in avoiding surgery and anesthesia will remain substantial.

Hopefully, the attacks on RU-486 from anti-abortion groups and now, oddly, from the pro-choice quarter, will not obscure the facts about this remarkable drug and prevent it from being judged dispassionately on its scientific merits.


Chair, Physicians for RU-486

Los Angeles

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