Government Health Officials Investigating Deaths of Four California Women Who Took Mifepristone
The Los Angeles Times on Monday examined investigations by state and federal health officials to determine whether the deaths of four California women are linked to their taking Danco Laboratories' Mifeprex, a treatment known generically as mifepristone. When taken with misoprostol, the drug can cause a medical abortion (La Ganga, Los Angeles Times, 8/15).
FDA in July issued a public health advisory warning physicians to watch for any signs of sepsis or other infections among women taking the drug (California Healthline, 7/20).
Officials from CDC, FDA, the Department of Health Services and the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services are trying to determine how the four women died. At least two of the deaths were attributed to a rare bacterial infection called Clostridium sordelli, which was found in the women's bloodstream, although none of the women developed symptoms of the infection.
L. Clifford McDonald, an epidemiologist with CDC, said that all four women were administered misoprostol -- the follow-up drug to mifepristone -- vaginally instead of orally, a commonality among the cases.
Vaginal administration of misoprostol is considered "off-label use," according to the Times.
In addition to determining how the deadly infections developed, officials are examining whether other women have died after using the drug and whether other side effects might be caused by the drug combination (Los Angeles Times, 8/15).