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On October 21, 1993, Drs. Mitchell Creinin and Phillip Darney of the University of California at San Francisco publicized the results of their study of methotrexate as an abortifacient. The study, published in the journal Contraception, involved ten women, eight of whose pregnancies were successfully terminated. (Since the original study, more than fifty women have undergone the experimental procedure.)

The most significant aspect of the UCSF study, according to Nancy Tompkins, editor of the pro-choice newsletter Choosing Choice, is the fact that methotrexate is already on the market and FDA-approved for other purposes. Before its use as an abortifacient can be anything other than experimental, however, someone has to apply for a “supplemental indication” approval, which is generally easier to get than a new-drug approval.

Others are less optimistic than Tompkins. Thus far, no drug company has publicly requested a supplemental indication approval, and according to Wayne Koberstein, editor of Pharmaceutical Executive, “it is very unlikely that any large brand-name company will take this on.” Ironically, what may prevent methotrexate from becoming widely available for abortion is its low cost (four dollars per dose compared to two hundred dollars for RU 486). Because of this, methotrexate is unlikely to be a big profit-maker, and companies may be unwilling to risk the wrath of antiabortion groups by marketing it. Even if a company does take this chance, the drug’s approval is probably at least one or two years away.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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