Medication abortion from nurses at pharmacies in Nepal as safe as going to a clinic

Nepal has been a leader in reducing maternal deaths by improving access to abortion care, but it’s still difficult for women in rural areas to find safe and effective care. A new study co-authored by Bixby Center, ANSIRH and CREHPA researchers shows that offering medication abortion at pharmacies could be an important step toward increasing access to abortion.

In many countries, including Nepal, pharmacies are the first place women seek abortion care. They serve as important sources of abortion information and referrals. Compared to clinics, it is often easier for women with limited mobility and autonomy to get to a pharmacy. Until now, interventions to provide medication abortion services at pharmacies had not been studied.

Researchers compared women receiving medication abortion from trained auxiliary nurse-midwives at either a pharmacy or a government health facility. The study found that the care given at pharmacies was just as safe and effective as in clinics. Women had complete abortions in 98% of cases and no patients suffered serious complications. In both settings, 99% of women were satisfied with the care they received and about 95% would return to the same place for care in the future.

Auxiliary nurse-midwives who have experience providing medication abortion can do so at pharmacies with minimal additional training. Having nurses on site at pharmacies to provide care could be a small step forward toward greater access to safe abortion care, especially in areas far from health facilities.