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The recent deaths of two women, coming after both had used the abortion pill Mifepristone (also known as RU-486), has prompted the FDA to issues fresh warnings concerning the use of the drug. These most recent deaths follow at least four known previous deaths linked to the drug.

RU-486 is approved to induce medical abortion through the first 49 days of pregnancy. The “pill” is actually a two-step process involving one drug taken orally followed by another to be taken two days later, also orally. In all of the deaths linked to RU-486 the women choose to take the second drug vaginally. Despite FDA warnings about the risks of using the drug in this manner, many clinics offering RU-486 advise women that vaginal insertion of the second drug has been shown to be more effective than oral ingestion.

THe FDA added warnings to the label of RU-486 in 2004 concerning this issue, and advising of the proper way to administer the drug. Following the two recent deaths, however, the FDA is repeating the warning of the risks of ingesting the drug in any way other than orally.

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