Softening and dilation of the cervix (neck of the womb) prior to surgical termination of pregnancy.
To prepare the uterus for treatment with prostaglandins when a pregnancy needs to be terminated after three months.
To induce labour if a pregnancy has been interrupted (foetus has died in the uterus).
How does it work?
Mifegyne tablets contain the active ingredient mifepristone, which is a type of medicine known as an anti-progesterone. Mifepristone acts by blocking progesterone receptors in the uterus and this reduces the effectiveness of the natural hormone progesterone.
Progesterone plays an important role in the maintainance of pregnancy such as the successful implantation of the fertilised egg into the wall of the uterus and prevention of uterine contractions during pregnancy. By blocking progesterone receptors in the uterus, mifepristone significantly reduces progesterone levels so that pregnancy cannot be maintained. Abortion may occur solely as a result of the actions of mifepristone, but surgery may also be necessary to remove the foetus.
Treatment with Mifegyne tablets is always carried out under the supervision of a doctor.
Mifepristone may only be used for pregnancy termination in accordance with the Abortion Act 1967 as amended by The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990.
Mifepristone must be given under the supervision of a registered medical doctor.
Both administration of mifepristone and follow-up must take place in an NHS hospital or place approved by the Secretary of State under section 1 (3) of the Abortion Act 1967 and which has received approval by the Department of Health to undertake medical terminations with mifepristone.
A follow-up visit is recommended at an appropriate interval (usually 14 to 21 days) after taking mifepristone.
Mifepristone must not be given if there is doubt as to the existence and age of the pregnancy. The prescribing doctor should perform the appropriate tests to determine the age of the foetus, eg an ultrasound scan.
If treatment fails or is interrupted, the pregnancy is likely to continue to develop. Exposure to mifepristone may present a high risk of malformation to the foetus. In this event, termination by another method is advised to be undertaken at the follow-up visit.
You will experience vaginal bleeding, one or two days after treatment with mifepristone. This can last for up to 12 days. If you experience heavy or prolonged bleeding consult your doctor.
It is possible for a pregnancy to occur soon after treatment with mifepristone. An reliable method of contraception such as condoms, should be used until the next menstrual period.
Insufficient production of natural steroid hormones by the adrenal glands (adrenal insufficiency).
Hereditary blood disorders called porphyrias.
Decreased kidney function.
Decreased liver function.
This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to one of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy.
If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.
This medicine may pass into breast milk. Women should not breastfeed during treatment with this medicine. Seek further medical advice from your doctor.
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Just because a side effect is stated here, it does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.
Very common (affect more than 1 in 10 people)
Heavy vaginal bleeding.
Lower abdominal pain.
Common (affect between 1 in 10 and 1 in 100 people)
Genital infections, including pelvic inflammatory disease.
Disturbances of the gut, such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea.
Low blood pressure.
Uncommon (affect between 1 in 100 and 1 in 10,000 people)
A general feeling of being unwell (malaise).
Very rare (affect less than 1 in 10,000 people)
Fatal toxic shock caused by infection with Clostridium sordellii endometritis.
The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine's manufacturer.
For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.
How can this medicine affect other medicines?
It is important to tell your doctor or pharmacist what medicines you are already taking, including those bought without a prescription and herbal medicines, before you start treatment with this medicine. Similarly, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medicines while taking this one, to make sure that the combination is safe.
The following medicines may reduce the breakdown of mifepristone in the body and so may increase its effects or side effects:
antibiotics, such as erthromycin, rifamipicin
antifungals, such as itraconazole, ketoconazole
corticosteroids, such as beclometasone, prednisolone
the herbal remedy St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum).
Other medicines containing the same active ingredient
There are currently no other medicines available in the UK that contain mifepristone as the active ingredient.