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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to decide by Saturday whether it will approve the abortion pill, RU-486. It would be the first alternative to surgical abortion approved in the US.
The drug, sold in Europe and elsewhere for more than a decade, allows women to terminate pregnancy within seven weeks of their last period. Opponents of legal abortion have argued that the pill could be more dangerous than surgical abortions, causing severe bleeding in about 2% of women and incomplete abortions in 5% to 8%, requiring women to have surgical abortions to complete the procedure.
The drug's maker, the Roussel Ucalf of Hoechst A.G., decided against marketing approval in the US fearing protests. However, in 1994, the company gave the drug's patent to a nonprofit group, the Population Council. Six months ago, Danco Laboratories, a company formed to market the drug for the Population Council, submitted its application to the FDA. For more information visit www.fda.gov.