mifepristone (Mifeprex)

What is mifepristone, 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?

Mifeprex, Korlym

Is mifepristone available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for mifepristone?


What are the side effects of mifepristone?

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).

What is the dosage for mifepristone?

Treatment with mifepristone and misoprostol requires three separate office visits.

  • Day 1: Three 200 mg tablets (600 mg) of mifepristone are taken as a single dose.
  • Day 3: 400 mcg of misoprostol is given orally unless abortion has been confirmed.
  • Day 14: No medication administered. Patient returns for a post-treatment examination to confirm that a complete termination of pregnancy has occurred.

The dose for treating Cushing syndrome is 300 mg daily initially. The dose may be increased to 1200 mg daily.

Which drugs or supplements interact with mifepristone?

Ketoconazole, itraconazole (Sporanox), erythromycin, and grapefruit juice may increase blood levels of mifepristone by inhibiting the enzyme responsible for metabolizing (breaking down) mifepristone. Rifampin, dexamethasone, St. John's Wort, phenytoin, phenobarbital, and carbamazepine may decrease blood levels of mifepristone by increasing the activity of the enzyme responsible for metabolizing mifepristone and decrease the effectiveness of mifepristone. Mifepristone may inhibit liver enzymes which are responsible for the metabolism of various drugs, resulting in increased blood levels of these drugs.

Is mifepristone safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?

Mifepristone is used for the termination of pregnancy through the 49th day of pregnancy. Otherwise, it should not be used during pregnancy because it will terminate the pregnancy.

Mifepristone is secreted into breast milk. Due to the risk of adverse effects, breastfeeding mothers should decide whether to discontinue breast-feeding or mifepristone.

What else should I know about mifepristone?

What preparations of mifepristone are available?

Tablets: 200 and 300 mg

How should I keep mifepristone stored?

Tablets should be stored at room temperature, 15 C - 30 C (59 F - 86 F). Optimal storage temperature is 25 C (77 F).


Mifepristone (Mifeprex) is prescribed to terminate pregnancies up to the 49th day of the pregnancy. Side effects drug interactions, dosage, storage, and safety information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.

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Medically reviewed by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP; Board Certified Emergency Medicine


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