September 2001

Can women in less-developed countries use a simplified medical abortion regimen?

Elul B, Hajri S, Ngoc N, Ellertson C, Ben Slama C, Pearlman E, Winikoff B. Can women in less-developed countries use a simplified medical abortion regimen? Lancet. September 2001; 357:1402-1405.

BACKGROUND: Mifepristone-misoprostol abortion, consisting of oral pills, is potentially simple and safe enough for use in less-developed countries. But the labour-intensive, costly, clinic-based European protocols are not affordable or feasible in most less-developed countries.

METHODS: We prospectively tested two simplifications to the French mifepristone-misoprostol regimen in Vietnam and Tunisia. Women (n=315) with amenorrhoea 8 weeks or less since their last menstrual period received 200 mg mifepristone in the clinic and then chose whether to take 400 mg oral misoprostol 2 days later either at home or in the clinic.

FINDINGS: Despite the two-thirds reduction in mifepristone dose, success rates were high: Vietnam 93%, Tunisia 91%. About 88% of participants chose home administration of misoprostol. Most Vietnamese and Tunisian women were satisfied with their abortions, but efficacy and satisfaction rates were higher among those who used misoprostol at home.

INTERPRETATIONS: A simplified medical abortion regimen of 200 mg mifepristone followed by the option of home administration of misoprostol seems feasible.