Mifepristone: contraceptive and non-contraceptive uses

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Mifepristone is an orally active progesterone antagonist. It can be used for both contraceptive and non-contraceptive clinical indications. It is a very effective drug for emergency contraception with a low incidence of side effects. There is a potential for mifepristone to be used as a once-a-month pill. There is a need, however, for a simple, inexpensive and accurate method to identify the luteinizing hormone surge before this method can be used in clinical practice. The daily administration of mifepristone offers promise as an effective method of contraception but more studies need to be done. The combination of mifepristone with a prostaglandin analogue is a well-established method for termination of pregnancy of up to 9 weeks. Recent data suggest that this combination may also be used up to 9-13 weeks of pregnancy. Although mifepristone is effective in dilating the cervix before vacuum aspiration, misoprostol is probably the drug of choice in most situations. In the second trimester, mifepristone is effective in shortening the abortion process induced by prostaglandin analogues. The combination of mifepristone and prostaglandin also offers a medical method for management of miscarriages. Mifepristone has been used for a number of other indications, but further studies are needed before such treatment can be recommended.

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