Some online drug stores have been found to have sold abortion pill Mifegyne (ingredient: mifepristone) indiscriminately in Korea.
Mifegyne is a prescription medicine, but it is not available in the nation because the local law bans abortion. Distributing the abortion pill is illegal, too.
However, typing Mifegyne on major search engines, including Nave,r led to more than 10 sites promoting Mifegyne sales.
|A website, accessible from online search engines, sells abortion pill Mifegyne illegally in Korea.|
Naver blocked a direct link to the sellers’ sites, but a few clicks from trending words allowed access to the online sellers.
Through hashtags on Twitter, words such as “abortion pill purchase” and “Mifegyne purchase” led to the sellers’ sites. Although Google required adult authentication, many sites were accessible by merely searching for Mifegyne.
The online sellers demanded users add their contact numbers on Kakao Talk, the nation’s most popular mobile messenger app, make a purchase of the pills, and send money to their bank accounts. Others asked users to comment on a bulletin board on their homepage.
Some sites even used words such as “Clinic” or “Pharmacy,” making them look legitimate.
Abortion pills were priced at between 400,000 won ($358) and 800,000 won, depending on how long pregnancy has progressed.
A website said, “A qualified pharmacist provides the drug and follow-up care through thorough consultation,” revealing the name of the pharmacist.
Another site offered an online test for users if they were “eligible” for Mifegyne and emphasized that only those who pass the test could purchase the pills.
However, many reviews pointed out that the illegal use of the abortion pill could cause serious side effects.
People complained that the drug did not work at all or that their vaginal bleeding after taking the pills did not stop. Another site had a list of sites that sold fake Mifegyne.
Mifegyne is an abortion drug approved in France in 1998, and it requires a prescription of a physician. Also known as RU-486, the medicine was developed by Roussel Uclaf SA, one of Sanofi's predecessor companies. Currently, Exelgyn owns sales rights outside the U.S.
Although Exelgyn sold Mifegyne, sites that sold fake Mifegyne called the drug “Indian made” or “Chinese made” abortion pills.
Physicians raised concerns about the illegal distribution of abortion drugs.
Kim Dong-seok, president of the Korean Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (KAOG), said the association would check the illegal distribution of Mifegyne in Korea. He said physicians in other countries carefully use the drug Mifegyne because it could cause side effects such as incomplete miscarriage.
“Mifegyne is only available at the early stage of pregnancy, and the user should check with the doctor in advance to take the medication at the right time,” Kim said.
“Side effects include incomplete miscarriage, a partial detachment of the placenta, and anemia from vaginal bleeding. Under such a situation, removing the placenta could damage the uterus. The damage could immediately lead to infertility,” he added.
Kim warned that the illegal seller of the abortion pill would try to sell the drug regardless of its authenticity and run away. “Even after taking a fake abortion pill, the patient’s pregnancy may progress. If she tries to abort the fetus later, she will face a bigger problem,” Kim said.
He said he would send warnings to the illegal online sellers and request a police investigation to protect people’s health.
“We will monitor which sites are selling Mifegyne at what price. Then, we will warn them first,” Kim said. “If the prosecution does not enter a probe, we will request it and take an issue with it, not to harm people’s health.”
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