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Today's Trib has an article on Monty Patterson's campaign to get the abortion pill mifepristone's FDA approval revoked. His 18-yr-old daughter died of toxic shock a week after taking the drug to terminate her pregnancy (which she hadn't told her parents about).
Everything about this situation is tragic. I understand why the Patterson family would want to fight to remove this medication from the market. But as heartbreaking and horrible as this young woman's death is, it should not be used to deny health care to millions of women.
Holly Patterson is the second American woman to die from side effects of mifepristone since the drug became legal in 2000. That's 2 deaths out of an estimated 200,000 patients who've taken the drug. Penicillin kills twice as many people (2 out of 100,000), and pregnancy kills 11 women for every 100,000 live births. Every drug has side effects. Even safe medicines prescribed properly and taken correctly occasionally kill people. That may not console the Patterson family, but if we took every drug that killed someone off the market, there would be no medications left.
One of the people who might get to make the decision about mifepristone is Dubya-appointee David Hager, a Kentucky OB who prescribes scripture readings for women with PMS. He's a longtime opponent of mifepristone, and Bush put him on the FDA's reproductive drug advisory board last year. Hager is quoted in the Trib saying, "It is obviously not a lifesaving medicine," which has become the main argument from the anti-choice side for removing the drug from the market again.
Two things are wrong with that argument, however. First, plenty of non-lifesaving drugs with potentially fatal side effects are available without controversy. Viagra, for example, killed 130 men in the eight months after it was approved by the FDA. Despite that mortality rate, I have not heard of anyone trying to deny men their right to non-lifesaving boners.
Second, mifepristone can be a lifesaving drug -- it has been used in clinical trials to treat brain tumors, breast cancer, endometriosis, and HIV. Of course, these studies have been small and rare because the anti-choice folks don't want anyone using this drug for anything, ever. Kinda makes you wonder why they call themselves "pro-life" if they don't want to help people with brain tumors. But then, logic, compassion, and consistency have never been strengths of the "pro-life" movement.
Replies: 2 Confessions
Viagra, for example, killed 130 men in the eight months after it was approved by the FDA. Despite that mortality rate, I have not heard of anyone trying to deny men their right to non-lifesaving boners.
let me look into the science around this as this is the first I have heard of it.
in other news related to birthcontrol, I am loving the NuvaRing with I didn't even know was an option till I hit the planned parenthood website a while ago.
shechemist @ 11/30/2003 07:15 PM CST
522 deaths from Viagra as of March 2000.
A more recent article mentions 564.
Easter Lemming Liberal News Digest @ 12/03/2003 06:15 PM CST