RU486 A Journey to Choice
10 October 2012
Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek, opened the briefing remarking on the important role of RU486 in facilitating access to safe medical abortion for all women in Australia, noting particularly, those who currently experence financial and geographical barriers to access. The Minister celebrated the drug passing the stringent safety and quality standards of the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Minister Plibersek also recognized the important action that members of the PGPD, NGOs - in particular Marie Stopes International, and individuals across the political spectrum have taken to achieve this breakthrough.
The Minister closed by reiterating the Government's support for women's choice and access to abortion 'within their own community, with their own doctors'.
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP hosted a panel discussion, including:
Dr Andre Ullman,a French physician who led the medical development team for RU486 in France in 1986, and current Licensor to the Australian sponsor
Dr Ullman discussed his personal involvement with the discovery and development of RU486 in France during the 1980s, with particular reference to the strong opposition and controversy created by the development of the drug, and the French Health Minister's support for the its development, calling it a 'moral perogative of women'. Dr Ullman also spoke about similar delays to the approval of the drug in Canada and Japan, celebrating Australia overcoming such a barrier, but noted the continued barrier to access the drug in many, often developing, nations.
Maria Deveson Crabbe,CEO of Marie Stopes International Australia, and Managing Director of the non profit pharmaceutical entity established by the organisation to distribute RU486 in Australia
After speaking about the stringent process for approval from the TGA, Ms Deveson focused on the need to provide information, education and training for GPs and future providers and the need to communicate to potential providers the safety and efficacy of the drug for women who seek to terminate pregnancy, and what Marie Stopes is doing, in partnership with RANZCOG to overcome this barrier.
Lyn Allison, former Democrats Senator and former PGPD member
Ms Lyn Allison, reflected on the groundbreaking work that the PGPD has conducted on RU486 since 2005 , noting its acehivement in lifting the ministeral veto on RU486 in 2005 and that the Therapeutic Goods Amendment (Repeal of Ministerial Responsibility for Approval of RU486) Bill 2005 was the first bill to be sponsored by women, the first bill to be sponsored by four parties in the Senate, the second private member's bill to pass both houses of parliament and the first bill not supported by the then Prime Minister and Minister for Health.
Senator Claire Moore, Chair of the PGPD
Senator Moore emphasised the great work done by the former secretariat to the PGPD, the Australian Reproductive Health Alliance and the role of the PGPD members in the success of lifting the veto. The Senator emphasised the importance of societal and public support on this issue and the need for PGPD members to continue to work to ensure that RU486 receives the same treatment and be subject to the same processes of all other medicines that apply for registration by the TGA and inclusion on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Representatives from the women's advocacy orgnaisation, Vocal Majority, then spoke to the briefign. Vocal Majority ran the campaign 'RU4it?', a letter writing campaign to Parliamentarians to express the widespread support for RU486 and advocacy for the inclusion of RU486 onto the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.