Controversy Swirls Over Unregulated RU-486 Print Ads

The National Abortion Federation, a professional association representing abortion providers in the U.S. and Canada, predicts that its advertising campaign for mifepristone that begin running in 13 national magazines last month will reach more than 70 percent of women under age 50. But because the ad is not sponsored by a drug manufacturer, the Food and Drug Administration did not need to review it for fair balance between effectiveness and risk information.

The ad gives the new drug's name, but fails to report information about possible side effects, contraindications, or efficacy. The ad claims the drug is a “medical breakthrough” that “safely and effectively terminates a pregnancy.” NAF's executive director views the ad as a public service, as opposed to being a “pharmaceutical ad” — and thus believes FDA involvement isn't appropriate.

The product, which is covered by most health plans that cover surgical abortion, costs about $500.

MANAGED CARE August 2001. ©MediMedia USA