Pharmacy provision of medical abortifacients in a Latin American city

Contraception. 2006 Nov;74(5):394-9. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2006.05.068. Epub 2006 Jul 17.


Purpose: Access to legal abortion services is restricted in Latin America. Nonetheless, previous research suggest that women frequently use misoprostol to self-induce abortion. In many settings, women obtain the medication from a pharmacy. This study was conducted to better understand pharmacy staff knowledge and provision practices of misoprostol and other medical abortifacients.

Methods: We first interviewed staff at a random sample of 102 pharmacies in a Latin American city. Mystery clients were subsequently sent to the same pharmacies to ascertain prescribing practices and counseling.

Results: Nearly half of the pharmacy staff interviewed reported that they were familiar with at least one abortifacient, and an abortifacient was recommended in 74% of the mystery client encounters. Hormonal injections were most frequently recommended as abortifacients in the survey (67%) and the mystery client encounters (71%), followed by misoprostol (60% and 39%, respectively). Few of the pharmacy staff (6% in the survey and 17% in the mystery client encounters) recommended a misoprostol dosing regimen that is potentially effective.

Conclusion: Abortifacient provision is common at pharmacies but knowledge about medications is low among pharmacy staff.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortifacient Agents, Nonsteroidal*
  • Abortion, Induced / methods*
  • Abortion, Induced / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Latin America
  • Male
  • Misoprostol*
  • Pharmacists / statistics & numerical data*
  • Urban Population


  • Abortifacient Agents, Nonsteroidal
  • Misoprostol