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Several headlines on the internet claim Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, had an ulterior motive.
"Kavanaugh accuser worked for pharma company that sold ‘abortion pill’ for alternative uses," a Sept. 21 headline on Patriot News Alerts read. (Kavanaugh has denied the accusation.)
Others took it further.
"Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey exposed for ties to Big Pharma abortion pill maker… effort to derail Kavanaugh is plot to protect abortion industry profits," a Sept. 20 headline on Natural News read.
Abortion rights advocates worry that Kavanaugh would reverse Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion. These stories suggest that Ford went after Kavanaugh because of a special interest in protecting abortion-inducing drugs. That’s a big stretch.
Ford worked as director of biostatistics for Corcept Therapeutics, a California pharmaceutical start-up, from 2006 to 2012, according to an archive of her since-deleted LinkedIn page. Corcept published six papers under her name.
But claiming that Corcept sells an abortion pill is like saying a road salt company sells food seasoning.
The company sells Korlym to treat Cushing's syndrome, a rare, deadly condition characterized by high cortisol levels. Korlym’s main ingredient, mifepristone, blocks the effect of cortisol.
That ingredient has another use.
Just like it blocks cortisol, mifepristone blocks progesterone, which is crucial to the development of a pregnancy. In a medication-induced abortion, mifepristone is administered first and another drug, misoprostol, follows. That empties the uterus by causing cramping and bleeding.
The latter drug, misoprostol, can and is used alone for abortions. However, the combination of both drugs is typically used for greater effectiveness and fewer side effects.
Mifepristone, on the other hand, is not administered alone to induce abortions. In some other countries, it is used alone as emergency contraception, according to Clare Flannery, a professor of endocrinology and reproductive sciences at Yale University. That’s not an abortifacient, according to Flannery, because it plays a role before the sperm and egg implant in the uterus. (Pregnancy occurs after implantation.)
In order to induce an abortion in the United States, a low dose of mifepristone is used only once in combination with misoprostol. Korlym patients take up to four times that dose of mifepristone daily for months or even years.
Korlym was the first drug the Food and Drug Administration approved for Cushing’s syndrome.
"Mifepristone was developed in 1980, but there was so much political concern for its use in aiding abortions, that its other therapeutic potentials were overlooked and companies were nervous to pursue it for other conditions," Flannery said.
The company explicitly warns about the drug’s potential to terminate a pregnancy.
"Korlym should never be taken by women who are pregnant or who might become pregnant," a banner on the website reads. "Taking Korlym during pregnancy will result in the loss of a pregnancy. A pregnancy test is required before starting Korlym or if treatment is interrupted for more than 14 days."
A headline said, "Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey exposed for ties to Big Pharma abortion pill maker… effort to derail Kavanaugh is plot to protect abortion industry profits."
Ford worked for a pharmaceutical company that sells Korlym, a drug that treats Cushing’s syndrome. The main ingredient in that drug is used in combination with another drug to induce abortions, but the doses differ. The company does not promote the drug for abortions; in fact, it requires that doctors rule out pregnancy in order to administer the drug.
We rate this statement Pants on Fire!
Patriot News Alerts, Kavanaugh accuser worked for pharma company that sold ‘abortion pill’ for alternative uses, Sept. 21, 2018
Heavy.com, Christine Blasey Ford: Husband Russell Ford & Family, Sept. 22, 2018
Washington Post, "How an abortion pill turned out to be a treatment for a rare disease", April 8, 2018
Email interview with Clare Flannery, professor of endocrinology and reproductive sciences at Yale University, Sept. 24, 2018
Corcept, Publications, accessed Sept. 24, 2018
Corcept, Korlym® (mifepristone) 300 mg Tablets, accessed Sept. 24, 2018
Palo Alto University, Course catalog, 2015-6
FDA, Korlym label, 2012
American Journal of Nursing, FDA Approves First Drug for Endogenous Cushing's Syndrome, June 2012
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