Skip to comments.A 20-Year Journey: The History of the Abortion Pill (or How Hewlett-Packard Funded RU-486)
Posted on 02/09/2006 10:14:03 AM PST by cgk
A 20-Year Journey: The History of the Abortion Pill
Hosted By: Michelle La Mothe, MD, MPH, MSc, Consultant: Professional Education, Public Health and Medical Communications
Richard Hausknecht, MD - Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Danco Laboratories
Beverly Winikoff, MD, MPH - Population Council
|Recorded Live: November 9 2000||
|MICHELLE LA MOTHE, MD: Hello. Welcome to our webcast. I'm Dr. Michelle La Mothe. Recently approved by the FDA, mifepristone, long known as RU-486, has a long history of development. It was first developed in France but it has taken 20 years for this drug to be approved in the United States. Explaining its long journey from Europe to the United States are two experts. Dr. Richard Hausknecht, Medical Director of Danco Laboratories, and Associate Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Dr. Beverly Winikoff, Director of Reproductive Health at the Population Council. Good evening. Thank you for joining us. Dr. Winikoff, can you tell us a little bit about the beginning of this drug in France more than 20 years ago?
BEVERLY WINIKOFF, MD: The drug started out in the laboratory of a pharmaceutical company in France and it was originally developed as a hormone blocking drug and it was soon realized that this meant that it could be used to block early pregnancy from continuing. So the French developed this drug as a medical abortifacient, in other words, a drug women could take to end pregnancies, and after a certain number of years they discovered that it worked even better if it was used in combination with another kind of drug, a prostaglandin, which is a drug that makes smooth muscles contract, which meant that the effectiveness of this drug was increased from about 70 percent to well over 90 percent.
At that point, the French company felt they could market it as a drug for this purpose. It was approved in France and in the same year also approved in China, and that was 1988. It went on the market and became a successful drug in France for abortion. Not too long after that, in the early 90's, it was also approved in the United Kingdom and in Sweden. And there it stayed, in France, the United Kingdom, and Sweden, for almost a decade without going anywhere else.
MICHELLE LA MOTHE, MD: You are with the Population Council and the Population Council has been involved, I believe, in bringing this drug to the United States. Can you talk to us a little bit more about how the Population Council became involved?
BEVERLY WINIKOFF, MD: Sure. The Population Council is a research organization that had been working on this drug and its uses since the early 80's under a contract from the French manufacturer and never, frankly, envisaged being an introducer of this drug in the United States or anywhere else. But the drug became a political symbol and the company became unwilling to introduce it into the United States for political reasons.
MICHELLE LA MOTHE, MD: You mean the French company.
BEVERLY WINIKOFF, MD: Roussel. And that company then was under enormous pressure to do something with the drug, to make it available elsewhere, and didn't want to do it itself. So it looked around for someone else to take over the drug and there wasn't any other commercial entity willing to do this. So it decided to donate the drug to a nonprofit entity who could take on the responsibility. The Population Council had had experience with registration of other drugs, for example in this case Norplant contraceptive device and also the IUD, so they knew how to do regulatory work and were willing to take on the responsibility, and that's how it started.
MICHELLE LA MOTHE, MD: The regulatory work, specifically in the United States, has to do with the FDA, the entire approval process. So the Population Council was fairly well-versed in having brought other drugs through?
BEVERLY WINIKOFF, MD: Relative to any other noncommercial entity, I would say it was an organization that had a large amount of experience. Relative to pharmaceutical companies, no. It was a big, big new challenge.
RICHARD HAUSKNECHT, MD: Once they had the patent rights in the United States to mifepristone, they then had to find somebody who would produce it, manufacture it and distribute it, and that was an equally daunting task because there was no particular company that had the capability to produce it that was interested in any way. They didn't want to get anywhere near this drug. So what was necessary was the formulation of a brand new company, and that's exactly what happened. Danco Laboratories was formed with tremendous help from the Packard Foundation. They gave a significant amount of money to get the process started. And then there was a group of investors who came on board and a small company was formed, Danco Labs, which I joined a little over a year ago.
We, and I say Beverly and I and our gang, went and visited the FDA repeatedly throughout the summer and, with great help from a wonderful attorney, we were delighted on the 28th of September to have approval of Mifeprex for the termination of early pregnancies up through 49 days. It's been a long, arduous process and a great deal of credit goes to the Population Council for having stuck with it.
MICHELLE LA MOTHE, MD: Thank you Dr. Hausknecht and thank you Dr. Winikoff for joining us. And thank you. I'm Dr. Michelle La Mothe.
About the Foundation
David and Lucile Packard believed America to be the home of a unique type of organization dependent upon private funding and volunteer leadership. Together, universities, national institutions, community groups, youth agencies, family planning centers, and hospitals constitute a great American tradition that complements government efforts to focus on society's needs.
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation was created in 1964 by David Packard (19121996), the co-founder of the Hewlett-Packard Company, and his wife, Lucile Salter Packard (1914 1987). Throughout their lives in business and philanthropy, the Packards sought to use private funds for the public good, giving back to a society which enabled them to prosper.
What We Fund
Guided by the business philosophy and values of our Founders, the Packard Foundation invests in and takes smart risks with innovative people and organizations to improve the lives of children, enable creative pursuit of science, advance reproductive health, and conserve and restore earths natural systems.
Core Grantmaking Programs
We focuses the majority of our grantmaking in three program areas:
Our Conservation and Science Program seeks to protect and restore our oceans, coasts, and atmosphere and to enable the creative pursuit of scientific research toward this goal.
Our Population Program seeks to slow the rate of growth of the world's population, to expand reproductive health options among the world's poor, and to support reproductive rights.
Our Children, Families, and Communities Program seeks to ensure opportunities for all children to reach their potential.
Please FReepmail me if you would like to be added to, or removed from, the Pro-Life/Pro-Baby ping list...
A lot of these ultra-wealthy family foundations are big into the eugenics movement.
Except the job of being a mother.
Deceptive headline. HP is not the same entity as the Packard Foundation. Bad form. Yes, HP has much to be ashamed of - but at least we fired Carly!
We have an HP LaserJet 6p printer. Before this we had an HP LaserJet 4p printer. I'm happy to report I bought them used on ebay. But I won't buy HP labeled supplies for them ever again.
I verified it's like that on their web page. Bad grammer, or at least poor proofreading, in addition to their lack of morality.
I didn't see it as deceptive or in bad form, but rather as my opinion (which is why it was in parentheticals in the title) after reading about David Packard and what he did while at HP with HP money, at least until 1993 when he was still Chairman of the Board. (coincidentally the same year that Clinton ordered the FDA to re-evaluate RU-486 for the US... ) I have yet to understand why he is described as having been a "life-long" Republican.
The Post reported there's also a Planned Parenthood connection. Richard Hausknecht is Danco's medical director. Previously, he held a similar position at Planned Parenthood of New York City. Hausknecht still serves on a Planned Parenthood advisory board.
In addition to the Clinton Administration's support (without which RU-486 would still effectively be banned from the U.S.), the Population Council and Danco are backed by the foundations of Warren Buffet, George Soros, and the late David Packard. To date, Danco has collected more than $34 million to finance production (probably by a firm in China, whose national pro-abortion policy dictates that women have only one child).
Sarah Clark, director of the Packard Foundation's population program, spoke about the $10 million loan it gave to the project. "It's consistent with our strategy and foundation philosophy that American women should have the full range of options when it comes to their own reproductive health. We don't make loans to anything we don't believe in." Make no mistake, they believe in death for the unborn.
How it works: An RU-486 abortion takes place in four visits to the doctor. During the first visit, the woman undergoes a pregnancy test, blood test, pelvic exam and often an ultrasound exam. RU-486 is only effective during the first forty-nine days after conception. At the second visit, the woman takes three RU-486 pills. This anti-progesterone prevents the endometrium (lining of the uterus) from providing progesterone to the [unborn child], which is necessary for its nourishment. Thus, the [unborn child] starves to death. At the third visit, the woman receives Cytotecâ, which induces cramping in order to expel the dead [child] from her body. The fourth visit occurs about a week later to ensure the abortion is complete and to monitor the womans bleeding. If the abortion is not successful (5-10 percent of all cases),24 the woman undergoes a surgical abortion.
Side effects and risk factors: Nausea; abdominal pain; vomiting; heavy and extended bleeding; heart attack; hemorrhage; impaired future fertility; harmful to any future children; significant blood loss; possible death (one woman in France has died from RU-486.)25 Long-term effects to a womans fertility and immune system are not known.
I think he did it with his own money, which HP paid him.
There are plenty of companies out there which are blatantly into the culture of death and are proud of it, without knocking a company just because their founder was a kook.
Bill Gates has given plenty of money to "third world family planning" (including abortion) and similar initiatives, so don't buy Microsoft. Warren Buffett has too, so don't buy GEICO insurance or Fruit of the Loom clothing (both owned by Berkshire Hathaway). The Ford Foundation (not FoMoCo) has, too, so don't buy a Ford automobile. And so on.
You have to either pick your battles carefully or live like the Amish do, it seems.
Or both. There's more than one reason to live simply and reduce one's level of consumption.
There's plenty of precedent -- going back at least as far as T. Roosevelt -- for Republicans backing eugenics, population control, and abortion. JUstice Blackmun was a Nixon appointee, remember, and it was Nixon who had Kissinger produce the notorious National Security Memorandum proclaiming that "Abortion is vital to the solution." And don't forget that Bush 41 was heavily into pop control in the 70s, as a big wheel with Planned Parenthood. The GOP is lousy with deathist politicians.
OMG!!! A pill that prevents a cell from implanting!
Oh the humanity.
"Meet the Baby Killers"
Oh the humanity.
8 Weeks from Conception:
Kindly take your insults elswhere, and next time learn to read. Starting with the title?
Thanks very much and have a nice day.
Hey my hp4p printer is still working!
But I don't and won't by HP again
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