TGA adopts new approach to medical abortion pills

In a significant move, all pharmacists will be allowed to dispense medical abortion preparation MS-2 Step and it can be prescribed by any healthcare practitioner (including nurse practitioners) from August 1, 2023.

The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) recently approved MS Health’s application to lift prescription and dispensing restrictions, allowing Australians better access to medical abortions.

A word about MS-2 Step

Two pregnancy-termination services are available to women of childbearing age. One is via surgery and the other one is the administration of a mifepristone-misoprostol combination.

Mifepristone prevents hormones from preparing the uterus for pregnancy, making the uterus unable to support pregnancy. Meanwhile, misoprostol induces strong uterine contractions while softening the cervix. This dual action encourages the uterus to expel its contents.

It is worth noting that both drugs require a doctor’s prescription, and these medicines are only applicable to pregnancies not exceeding 63 days. Without a valid prescription, pharmacists cannot dispense pregnancy-terminating medications.

The current state of MS-2 Step dispensing

Pharmacists cannot dispense mifepristone-misoprostol combination packs without a valid prescription from an MS-2-certified doctor. 

Existing MS-2 Step regulations require pharmacists to register as an MS-2 Step dispenser. The process requires training and other relevant steps. Not many Australian pharmacists have this special MS-2 Step registration, and hence, not many pharmacies are available for this drug.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) decision to lift certification and registration restrictions for MS-2 Step prescription and dispensing is a significant step, in the direction of easier access.  

No doubt there will be a range of views amongst the public about the appropriateness of this step.  This blog is not intended to express an opinion about the existing regime, or the changes to its availability of the medication covered in this blog.

What the amendment means for Australian women

Lifting the MS-2 Step restrictions has significant implications for Australian women seeking medical abortion. 

Unplanned pregnancies happen to women of all ages and from all backgrounds. It is estimated that 50% of Australian women have an unplanned pregnancy and 1 in 4 women have an abortion. Reports indicate that 16% of Australian women have had an abortion by their mid-30s.  The Medical Journal of Australia also published a report about a 544% increase in MS-2 Step use from 3,220 to 20,741 between 2014 and 2017. 

The amendment potentially addresses illegal or “unsafe” abortion procedures and decreases the likelihood of abortion-related complications.

Opinions or facts expressed within the content have been sourced from various news sources. While every effort has been taken to source them accurately, the pharmacy, its owners, staff or other affiliates do not take any responsibility for errors in these sources. Patients should not rely on the facts or opinions in the content to manage their own health, and should seek the advice of an appropriate medical professional. Further, the opinions or facts in the content do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the pharmacy, its owners, staff or other affiliates. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *