Fund abor­tion drug in P.E.I., say med­i­cal stu­dents

Dal­housie med­i­cal stu­dents lob­by­ing P.E.I. gov­ern­ment to add Mif­e­gymiso to pro­vin­cial for­mu­lary

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE ISLAND - BY TERESA WRIGHT

Med­i­cal stu­dents at Dal­housie Univer­sity are plan­ning a lobby day in Prince Ed­ward Is­land in an ef­fort to con­vince the P.E.I. gov­ern­ment to cover the cost of the abor­tion drug Mif­e­gymiso for Is­land women.

A no­tice was sent to P.E.I. MLAs last month ad­vis­ing them that a group of Dal­housie med­i­cal stu­dents will be trav­el­ling to P.E.I. on Sept. 8 to ad­vo­cate for provin­cially funded ac­cess to Mif­e­gymiso and to dis­cuss with law­mak­ers how to fur­ther sup­port women’s re­pro­duc­tive needs on Prince Ed­ward Is­land.

The email no­tice was writ­ten by Jes­sica Pinkham, an Is­lan­der study­ing medicine at Dal­housie, on be­half of the Dal­housie Med­i­cal Stu­dent So­ci­ety, which rep­re­sents over 400 med­i­cal stu­dents at the Hal­i­fax univer­sity.

“It has been an on­go­ing chal­lenge for women in Prince Ed­ward Is­land to ac­cess timely and cost ap­pro­pri­ate ther­a­peu­tic preg­nancy ter­mi­na­tions,” Pinkham wrote to Is­land MLAs.

“As fu­ture physi­cians at var­i­ous stages of train­ing, we are wit­ness­ing first­hand the chal­lenges pa­tients face in mak­ing de­ci­sions sur­round­ing re­pro­duc­tive care through­out the Mar­itimes.”

The Guardian was not able to reach Pinkham for an in­ter­view but did ob­tain the letter she sent to P.E.I. MLAs.

The med­i­cal stu­dents com­mended the P.E.I. gov­ern­ment for fi­nally pro­vid­ing ac­cess to med­i­cal abor­tion ser­vices in Summerside but added they be­lieve fur­ther im­prove­ments to re­pro­duc­tive health ser­vices can be made in P.E.I.

“We want to ask de­ci­sion­mak­ers in P.E.I. to add Mif­e­gymiso to the pro­vin­cial for­mu­lary. It is a com­bi­na­tion of two med­i­ca­tions, used to in­duce abor­tion up to the sev­enth week of preg­nancy,” Pinkham wrote.

“This med­i­ca­tion has been ap­proved by Health Canada and is rec­om­mended by the Cana­dian drug re­view as it is safe, ef­fec­tive and cost-ef­fec­tive – it was cal­cu­lated to be $961 less per pa­tient than a sur­gi­cal abor­tion. Fur­ther­more, it will in­crease ac­cess to abor­tion for women living in ru­ral ar­eas of P.E.I.”

New Brunswick re­cently made the Mif­e­gymiso drug avail­able for free to women with a valid health card. Al­berta, Que­bec and On­tario have also in­di­cated they will fol­low suit.

Mif­e­gymiso, also known as RU-486, was au­tho­rized by Health Canada in July 2015 and be­came avail­able on the mar­ket in Jan­uary. It costs about $300.

P.E.I. Health Min­is­ter Robert Hen­der­son was not avail­able for an in­ter­view Tues­day, but a spokes­woman for the health depart­ment said the prov­ince is still con­sid­er­ing its op­tions when it comes to the abor­tion drug.

“P.E.I.’s de­ci­sions re­gard­ing drug avail­abil­ity are fo­cused on en­sur­ing the health and safety of Is­lan­ders. The prov­ince is ex­plor­ing op­tions of how best to make Mif­e­gymiso avail­able to Is­lan­ders,” the spokes­woman stated in an email to The Guardian.

“At this time no for­mal de­ci­sion has been made.”

The Dal­housie med­i­cal stu­dents are re­quest­ing meet­ings with P.E.I. politi­cians as part of their “P.E.I. lobby day” on Sept. 8.

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