Fund abortion drug in P.E.I., say medical students
Dalhousie medical students lobbying P.E.I. government to add Mifegymiso to provincial formulary
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.