May 3, 2019 6:59 pm

Mifegymiso cost analysis to be considered in Sask. universal coverage review

WATCH ABOVE: Some Saskatchewan pharmacies currently stock the two-pill abortion medication, but the drug – which exceeds $300 – isn’t covered by the provincial government.

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A recent business case for universal coverage of Mifegymiso will be considered in a Saskatchewan government decision, according to Health Minister Jim Reiter.

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Some Saskatchewan pharmacies currently stock the two-pill abortion medication, but the drug – which exceeds $300 – isn’t covered by the provincial government.

READ MORE: Many Saskatchewan pharmacies not stocking abortion drug Mifegymiso

“I think it’s important that we do this in a professional way,” Reiter said, explaining how ministry staffers are currently reviewing the government’s approach to the drug before providing recommendations.

A written analysis by Dr. Megan Clark at the Women’s Health Centre (WHC) in Regina has been submitted to the Ministry of Health. The findings state Mifegymiso saves $450 per abortion, compared to abortions conducted surgically.

“If we are giving women reproductive choice, we need to give them the best medical option available,” Clark said.

Other non-surgical abortions are already available, but Mifegymiso extends the eligible gestation period beyond seven weeks to 10 weeks.

In one year, the WHC performed 93 abortions with Mifegymiso for women from seven to nine weeks gestation, meaning nearly $42,000 in health care savings, according to the analysis.

The study assumes the Saskatchewan government would cover 100 per cent of the cost of Mifegymiso. Other savings are possible since Health Canada no longer requires ultrasounds for abortions.

“If it’s the cheaper option, obviously, we’d have to consider that,” Reiter said.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba are the only provinces that don’t provide universal coverage for Mifegymiso.

READ MORE: Ultrasound no longer required before patients can access abortion pill: Health Canada

A government staff recommendation for or against universal coverage in Saskatchewan is expected “in the next few weeks,” according to the health minister.

During Friday’s spring gathering of the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) in Saskatoon, family physician Dr. Carla Holinaty urged the province to cover the drug.

“It’s an issue that we as family doctors deal with on a day-to-day basis in our clinics and it’s a critical women’s health issue,” Holinaty said.

Proponents of Mifegymiso consider it an opportunity to improve access for non-urban centres where surgical abortions aren’t readily available.

“The burden of that travel falls disproportionately on our rural and remote populations,” Holinaty said.

The SMA has never taken an official position regarding the coverage of Mifegymiso.

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