Abortion pill cost should be covered, expert panel recommends

An expert committee appointed by provincial and federal governments concludes the abortion drug Mifegymiso should be paid for by the public health-care system after a review of its efficacy and safety.

Endorsement of Mifegymiso for public health-care coverage follows review of its safety and efficacy

An expert committee recommends women should be reimbursed by public health plans for access to the drug Mifegymiso. (Submitted by Celopharma)

An expert panel recommends the cost of the two-step abortion drug known as Mifegymiso should be reimbursed by government health plans.

The 14-person committee of mostly physicians began its review of Mifegymiso in October 2016 on behalf of the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) — an independent organization set up by the provinces, territories and federal government to evaluate whether to fund certain drugs and procedures.

The review concluded the drug is highly effective in inducing abortions with minimal risk of serious side-effects.

The recommendation that the governments should pay for Mifegymiso is non-binding, and provinces can choose to fund the drug solely for women who are covered by public drug plans such as those on social assistance, or for every women who is prescribed it.

Mifegymiso sells for approximately $300. However, the approval of the drug by CADTH means the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance — a joint government drug-price negotiating body — will likely begin talks with the manufacturer for a group discount.

The government of New Brunswick has already decided to fund 100 per cent of the drug for all residents of the province once the pharmaceutical alliance negotiates a price.