History of misoprostol
Misoprostol (commonly known by it’s brand name, cytotec) was originally marketed as a medication to treat stomach ulcers. Today, however, misoprostol is commonly recognized as the “abortion pill”. How can this one pill have such different applications? What can it be used for, and how is it safely used? Today we’re taking a closer look at misoprostol.
Misoprostol was first developed in 1973 for the prevention and treatment of peptic ulcers. These ulcers formed most commonly in patients using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen, which can damage the mucus lining of the stomach wall over time. Misoprostol prevented the secretion of excess gastric acids to help promote healing and pain relief for patients.
Aside from limiting gastric secretions, misoprostol could also stimulate contractions within the uterus. Thus, misoprostol came with a label warning users that the medication was not intended for pregnant women because of its ability to cause bleeding.
Women in Brazil are credited with first understanding misoprostol’s warning label for what it was- an indication that the medication was not only a treatment for gastric ulcers, but an abortifacient as well.
Word of mouth spread, and women began to seek out misoprostol as a way to end unwanted pregnancy. By the 1980s French researchers had developed another drug, mifepristone, which could be used in conjunction with misoprostol for a safe abortion. Though misoprostol by itself can terminate a pregnancy, studies indicate that mifepristone and misoprostol together are more effective.
Current uses of misoprostol
Today misoprostol is used commonly in obstetric and gynecological care. In fact, the World Health Organization has listed misoprostol as part of its List Of Essential Medicines. On and off-label use of misoprostol commonly include:
- Cervical ripening and labor induction
- Prevention and treatment of postpartum hemorrhage
- Miscarriage management
- Medical abortion
Misoprostol for safe abortion
If you or someone you know would like to learn about how misoprostol is used for a safe medical abortion in early pregnancy, visit the instructional page of our website for more information.