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Drug helps expel remains after failed pregnancy
Aug 26 (Reuters) - The GD Searle and Pfizer Inc drug Cytotec is almost as effective as surgery forremoving tissue that can remain in the uterus after a failed pregnancy, a test released on Wednesdayhas shown.
The drug, also known by its generic name misoprostol, had a success rate of around 85 percent, said JunZhang of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the chief author of the study.
The treatment, which can be done on an outpatient basis, is less risky than surgery and the pills costingup to 50 cents can be inserted into the vagina at home, he told Reuters.
The results "show that this treatment may be an option that is preferable to surgery for some women,"said Beverly Winikoff in an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, where the study appears.
About one in four women will have a spontaneous abortion or some other type of failed pregnancy. Ifsome tissue is left in the uterus, doctors may advise waiting up to a month so it can be expellednaturally, but that does not always work.
For women who don't want to wait, the traditional alternative has been a D&C, which stands for dilationand curettage and involves a surgical scraping of the uterus. A newer technique uses a vacuum to cleanthe uterus.
To see if Cytotec, which causes uterine contractions and is given after the abortion pill RU-486, is a safe and acceptable alternative, the Zhang team gave it to 491 women who had residual tissue after theirpregnancies failed.
They found that it worked in 71 percent of the women by the third day. The remaining women got asecond 800 microgram dose, and the success rate increased to 84 percent by the eighth day. Thesurgery was successful in 97 percent of the 161 who received the vacuum technique.
Eighty-three percent of the Cytotec recipients said they would recommended it to women in the samesituation.
"The drug is quite effective," Zhang said. "It usually takes effect in four hours, when you have uterinecontractions and the crampy abdominal pain comes. After that, usually the abdominal pain will disappearquickly."
There can be side effects such as some nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
Winikoff, president of the Gynuity Health Projects in New York, said questions persist about the best doseto use and whether the cause of the failed pregnancy should influence the dose.
Publish Date: August 26, 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays
in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.
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