Mifepristone Not Linked to Increased Risk of Infection, Study Finds
A government investigation of four California women who died of toxic shock syndrome after taking mifepristone and another drug to induce a medical abortion found that the risk of infection from the combination is "low," according to a study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Los Angeles Times reports (La Ganga, Los Angeles Times, 12/1).
According to the study, led by Marc Fischer of CDC, more studies are needed to determine whether mifepristone suppresses the immune system, making women more vulnerable to bacterial infections (Brewer, Contra Costa Times, 11/30).
Researchers said, "These cases demonstrate that serious infection can occur after medically induced abortion, much as it can occur after childbirth, spontaneous abortion and surgical abortion. However, available data suggest that the risk of such infection is low" (Los Angeles Times, 12/1).
FDA officials said they will hold a hearing to determine whether use of mifepristone and the infections are related (Henderson, Boston Globe, 12/1).
In an editorial accompanying the report, Michael Greene -- a Harvard Medical School professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology -- wrote, "Regulators should keep this rare complication in perspective and not overreact to scant data by prematurely foreclosing the only approved medical option for pregnancy termination."
According to the Baltimore Sun, the report "angered" political conservatives who oppose mifepristone, while liberals "welcomed" the report because of their concerns that FDA "might buckle to political pressure and restrict access to the drug" (Rockoff, Baltimore Sun, 12/1).
The study is available online. The editorial also is available online.