What Role Do Urban Pharmacies and Chemists Play in the Supply of Abortion Drugs? Preliminary Findings From Surveys and Mystery Client Data in Three Nigerian States

Mridula Shankar , Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Suzanne Bell, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Elizabeth F. Omoluabi, Centre for Research Evaluation Resources and Development (CRERD)
Funmilola OlaOlorun, University of Ibadan
Caroline Moreau, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM)

In countries with restrictive abortion laws, the informal use of mifepristone and/or misoprostol for self-induction is gradually replacing the use of more dangerous and invasive methods. This study’s objectives are to examine reported and true availability of these drugs in private pharmacies and chemist shops in urban areas of three Nigerian states. Just over one quarter of 92 facilities surveyed reported stocking misoprostol. In subsequent mystery client visits, 34% offered misoprostol to a female client compared to 21% offering to a male client. A minority of facilities asked for gestational age information or a doctor’s prescription. Information provided for self-induction, such as on danger signs and mode of administration, ranged from 36% to 80%. Results indicate a growing informal urban market for medical abortion drugs. Future strategies to improve safety must consider involvement of pharmacy and chemist staff who play a central role in providing informal abortion care.

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 Presented in Session 1. Fertility, Family Planning, Sexual Behavior, & Reproductive Health 1