Health Canada says ultrasound no longer mandatory before Mifegymiso prescribed for abortion

An ultrasound is no longer automatically required before a woman is prescribed Mifegymiso to medically terminate a pregnancy, Health Canada says.
Mifegymiso, the brand name for the two-drug treatment that ends pregnancy, became available in Canada in 2017. (CBC)

Women no longer need to have an ultrasound before they're prescribed Mifegymiso for medical termination of a pregnancy, Health Canada says.

Mifegymiso is the brand name for the combination of two pills — one containing mifepristone and  the other misoprostol. It is used to terminate early pregnancies.

Until now,  Health Canada's prescribing guidelines required that women have an ultrasound to ensure they don't have an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy outside the uterus) and to assess gestational age (how many weeks into pregnancy a woman is.)

"With the changes to the product monograph, prescribers now have the flexibility to use their medical judgement on how best to determine the gestational age and to rule out an ectopic pregnancy," Health Canada said in a release on Tuesday. "It also responds to concerns that some patients may have been facing unnecessary barriers or delays in accessing this product."

If the gestational age is uncertain or an ectopic pregnancy is suspected that an ultrasound is still recommended.

The regulator said it based it decision after reviewing information submitted by the company, the most recent scientific literature and experience with the product in other countries.

The update also includes a patient information card outlining information such as where to go for emergency assistance.

Previously, Health Canada said the abortion pill can now be prescribed up to nine weeks into a pregnancy, rather than the previous limit of seven weeks.