Early medical abortion in Cairns, Queensland: July 2006 - April 2007

Med J Aust. 2007 Aug 6;187(3):171-3. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2007.tb01179.x.


Mifepristone (RU486), which is used for early medical abortion, can only be obtained in Australia under the Authorised Prescriber legislation (Section 19[5] of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 [Cwlth]); two of the authors have permission to obtain, prescribe and administer this drug in Cairns, Queensland. From July 2006 to April 2007, 10 women who fulfilled the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) criteria of "life-threatening or otherwise serious" indications underwent medical abortion with mifepristone/misoprostol, and 12 women conforming with abortion requirements of Queensland law, but not TGA legislation for mifepristone administration, had medical abortions with the less preferable methotrexate/misoprostol combination. Although it is now more than a year since the cross-party vote in federal Parliament in February 2006 confirmed wide support for the right of Australian women to a medical abortion, we believe we are at present the only medical practitioners in Australia with permission to use mifepristone. Obtaining Authorised Prescriber status from the TGA is of necessity a complex and protracted process, involving ethics committee approval and auditing, and regular reporting to the TGA. Because of the current restrictions, we believe that women seeking medical abortion in Australia face barriers not experienced by women in other comparable countries, and that drug manufacturing and distributing companies may be discouraged from seeking to market mifepristone in Australia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortifacient Agents, Steroidal*
  • Abortion, Therapeutic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data
  • Drug and Narcotic Control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mifepristone*
  • Pregnancy
  • Queensland / epidemiology


  • Abortifacient Agents, Steroidal
  • Mifepristone