In a news release sent out Thursday, October 6, the council called on the provincial government to ensure the drug will be affordable for New Brunswickers. The council says this could be done by adding the medication to the province’s Drug Plan Formulary.
New Brunswick Women’s Council Executive Director Beth Lyons says that without the government’s support, the drug would cost women $300. Lyons says women shouldn’t have to borrow money to access the medication.
“We really have to think of the fact that women still experience high rates of violence, that women are often economically dependent on families and partners,” Lyons said.
She says that’s why affordability and making sure the pills are available in all regions is important.
In a written statement to Global News, Health Minister Victor Boudreau says the government is working on addressing the issue and is waiting on information from the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health.
“Once New Brunswick receives the positive funding recommendation under CADTH’s Common Drug Review, our government intends on listing Mifegymiso for coverage under the New Brunswick Drug Plan,” said Boudreau.
Lyons says there are other barriers that will need to be addressed before the drug hits the market — such as adequate access to ultrasounds.
“An ultrasound is required before this medication can be administered and this is time sensitive for patients, so we want to make sure they can get those ultrasounds quickly,” Lyon said.
Mifegymiso, also more commonly referred to as “Miffy”, involves taking two pills: Mifepristone and Misoprostol.
One pill disrupts the way progesterone works in the body and the other causes muscle contractions in the uterus and causes the lining to shed, resulting in an aborted pregnancy.
Lyons says the pills can be used to terminate a developing pregnancy up to 49 days from the start of a women’s last period.
Lyons says doctors also need to take a training course before they can give the drug to patients. She also says Health Canada requires doctors to be available for 14 days after the dose is given.
Another issue pointed out by the council, is that doctors need to be adequately compensated for their time and would be more likely to prescribe the drug if a direct billing code was created.
Lyons also says while the drug is considered safe and has a high success rate, women also require access to emergency medical care after taking the pills, in case of complications. She says that would require surgical facilities across New Brunswick to be able to perform Dilation and Curettage (D&C) procedures in the event that the abortion was not completely terminated.
Global News reached out to the Government of New Brunswick and Horizon health regarding additional barriers but no one was available for comment. The New Brunswick Medical Association has been working to provide a comment but were unable to provide a statement prior to deadline.