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Pill effective after failed pregnancy

From Times wire reports

The drug Cytotec is almost as effective as surgery for removing tissue that can remain in the uterus after a failed pregnancy, a test has shown.

The drug, also known by its generic name misoprostol, had a success rate of around 85%, said Jun Zhang of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, who led the study.

The treatment, which can be done on an outpatient basis, is less risky than surgery and the pills, costing up to 50 cents, can be inserted into the vagina at home, he said.

The results “show that this treatment may be an option that is preferable to surgery for some women,” said Beverly Winikoff in the Aug. 25 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, where the study appears.

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About one in four women will have a spontaneous abortion or some other type of failed pregnancy. If some tissue is left in the uterus, doctors may advise waiting up to a month so it can be expelled naturally, but that does not always work.

For women who don’t want to wait, the traditional alternative has been a D&C;, or dilation and curettage, which involves a surgical scraping of the uterus. A newer technique uses a vacuum to clean the uterus.

To see if Cytotec, which causes uterine contractions and is given after the abortion pill RU-486, is a safe alternative, the Zhang team gave it to 491 women who had residual tissue after their pregnancies failed.

State and federal health officials are investigating possible links between the drug combination misoprostol and RU-486 and the deaths of four California women who took the regimen.

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