A pharmaceutical advisory body for Japan's health ministry on Friday expressed no objection to the manufacturing and marketing of an abortion pill, bringing the medication a step closer to becoming the first of its kind to gain approval in the country.
Abortions in early stages of pregnancies in Japan are currently limited to surgical procedures, and the oral pill, if approved, is seen as a new option that could lighten both physical and mental stress on women.
The health ministry said it would gather public opinion and debate the matter further with its pharmaceutical subcommittee as the abortion pill had garnered "deep societal interest and necessitates careful discussion."
Linepharma KK, a subsidiary of British pharmaceutical Linepharma International Ltd., applied for manufacturing and marketing approval for its abortion pill "Mefeego" in Japan in December 2021.
The medication can be used to terminate pregnancies of up to 63 days of gestation, or 9 weeks, and is made of a combination of mifepristone, which blocks a pregnancy hormone, and misoprostol, which stimulates uterine contractions.
According to a domestic clinical trial consisting of 120 women who opted for an abortion, 93 percent were successful in their terminations within 24 hours of ingestion. Although 59 percent presented symptoms such as abdominal pain or vomiting, they were mild or moderate.
The combination of the drugs was first approved in France in 1988. It is used in over 70 countries across the world, according to the World Health Organization.