mifepristone, Mifeprex

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What is mifepristone-oral, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Mifepristone is a synthetic steroid with antiprogesterone and antiglucocorticoid effects. It is used for terminating pregnancy and treating people with Cushing syndrome. Progesterone is a female hormone and the principal progestational hormone. Progesterone prepares the uterus (the womb) to receive and sustain the fertilized egg andis an important hormone for sustaining pregnancy. Mifepristone terminates early pregnancy by blocking the activity of progesterone at progesterone receptors. It also stimulates contraction of the uterus. Early pregnancy is considered to be = 49 days (7weeks) since the last menstrual period began. Mifepristone must be used in combination with misoprostol for the purpose of termination of pregnancy. The FDA approved this combination treatment in September 2000.

Cortisol is a metabolite (break down product) of the hormone cortisone. Cortisol is an essential factor in many processes including the proper metabolism of starches, and it is the major natural glucocorticoid in humans. People with Cushing syndrome produce too much cortisol, and, among many other effects, develop high glucose (sugar) levels in the blood. Mifepristone reduces blood glucose levels in people with Cushing syndrome by blocking the activity of cortisol.

What brand names are available for mifepristone-oral?

Mifeprex, Korlym

Is mifepristone-oral available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: No

Do I need a prescription for mifepristone-oral?

Yes

What are the side effects of mifepristone-oral?

Commonly reported side effects include vaginal bleeding, cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, back pain, and tiredness. Less common but severe side effects include allergic reactions, low blood pressure, loss of consciousness, infections after abortion, ruptured ectopic pregnancy, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), and hematometra (collection of blood in the uterus).

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