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Abortion pill RU-486 approved in Canada

WATCH: There is now another option available for Canadian women who are seeking an abortion. Health Canada has approved a medication called RU-486. It’s a pill that induces miscarriage and it’s long been available in 57 other countries, including the U.S. Now it will be available by prescription. Jennifer Tryon has the details.

TORONTO – Health Canada has approved the drug RU-486, more commonly known as the abortion pill.

A spokesperson for Health Canada confirmed that the company that makes the drug was informed Wednesday it had been cleared for use in Canada.

The drug has been available for a quarter century in France and nearly as long in Britain. It has been available in the United States since 2000.

In fact, women in roughly 60 countries are able to access the drug, which is used to safely terminate a pregnancy.

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The drug will be sold under the brand name Mifegymiso in Canada. It is made by Linepharma International Limited.

While some countries allow the drug to be dispensed by pharmacists, Health Canada has opted to require that women get a prescription from a doctor in order to get the drug.

Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose had little to say Wednesday night about the decision to approve the drug.

“Drug approval decisions are arms-length decisions made by Health Canada officials based on analysis by Health Canada scientists,” a spokesperson for Ambrose said in an email.

The drug works by blocking production of progesterone, a hormone which is needed to sustain a pregnancy.

Studies suggest the drug can be used safely as late as 70 days into a pregnancy, although Health Canada may have set an earlier limit on the use of the drug.

Reproductive medicine experts have called it the best known option for abortion and have been advocating for its approval in Canada.

WATCH: Health Canada has approved the use of the abortion pill RU-486 for use in Canada. The pill has already been in use in close to 60 countries for decades. Marianne Dimain reports.

But Health Canada’s approval of the drug followed a protracted review process. The application to bring the drug to the Canadian market has been before the drug regulatory agency since December, 2012.

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Campaign Life Coalition, an anti-abortion rights group, is calling on the federal government and Ambrose to stop the distribution of the RU-486.

“We have fought against this drug coming into Canada since 1999 in order to safeguard the health of women and save unborn children from early deaths, ” Jim Hughes, National President of Campaign Life Coalition said in a statement.

CLC and other pro-life groups had launched petitions against approval of RU-486.

– With files from Allison Vuchnich, Global News