If RU 486 (Mifepristone) were not an abortifacient, or an abortion-inducing agent, public attention would focus on its potential broad medical applicability. Unfortunately, "right-to-life" abortion opponents have effectively threatened the French manufacturer of the drug, Roussel Uclaf, and its parent firm, Hoechst AG, with an organized, worldwide economic boycott unless the drug is withdrawn from use. This threat of economic reprisal against the manufacturer has seriously delayed the potential medical applications of RU 486. The political strength of the "right-to-life" forces put unprecedented White House and congressional pressure on the Food and Drug Administration, motivating the agency to place RU 486 on an import alert embargo in June 1989.

Under the FDA embargo, for scientists to get laboratory supplies of RU 486, a researcher must contact the FDA or risk confiscation. The embargo has no medical basis, and no clinical application of RU 486 is possible without FDA Investigational New...

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