Abortion Pill

The secrecy surrounding the abortion pill’s maker and influential financial investors must end

abortion pill

In part one of this two-part series, Live Action News reported on how the abortion industry is seeking to loosen the way the abortion pill is allowed to be distributed, and is pressuring the FDA to alter its Risk Evaluation Management Strategy (REMS) which currently only allows the abortion pill to be “ordered, prescribed, and dispensed by — or under the supervision of — a hospital or clinic healthcare provider who meets certain qualifications.” The abortion industry is seeking to:

  • Conduct clinical trials to prove the abortion pill, RU486 – a.k.a. Mifeprex, is safe for pharmacy and mail order dispensing.
  • Eliminate REMS under Mifeprex.
  • Filing lawsuits to force the FDA to remove Mifeprex from REMS.

This is only part of the problem. Another issue is that the abortion pill’s manufacturer itself is incredibly secretive about its stakeholders and controlling parties, which (from the limited information we can glean) appear to stand to gain financially from a broad abortion pill expansion.

Through their Packard Foundation, philanthropists David and Lucile Packard (yes, the ones whose names many have seen in association with supporting public television programming) have been long-time investors in Danco Laboratories, LLC, the company that now manufacturers the abortion pill in the United States. Packard not only helped to seed Danco’s beginning, but also now funds projects that could result in pressuring the FDA to lift important safety regulations so the pill can be sold across multiple online platforms.

Image: Packard Foundation invested in abortion pill manufacturer DANCO (Image: David and Lucile Packard Foundation )

Packard Foundation invested in abortion pill manufacturer DANCO (Image: David and Lucile Packard Foundation )

More conflicts of interest and connections among those pushing this expansion are listed below.

1. DANCO, the abortion pill’s manufacturer:

Image: Abortion Pill Manufacturer DANCO LLC (Image: DANCO website)

Abortion Pill Manufacturer DANCO LLC (Image: DANCO website)

Shrouded in secrecy

  • According to the Washington Post (2000), the FDA “took the unprecedented step of refusing to disclose the name or location of the manufacturer” of the abortion pill.
  • The Washington Post (2000) also reported that the “agency broke with precedent by not publishing the names of the experts who reviewed RU-486 for the agency.”
  • The LA Times noted (2000), “Danco refuses to release the names of its executives and investors. The company even persuaded the Food and Drug Administration to keep secret the location of the factory where the abortion drug will be produced…. The FDA acceded to Danco’s request that the name of its manufacturer be kept secret — and even shielded the names of the FDA researchers who had overseen the pill’s approval.”

2. The Packard Foundation, a large investor in the abortion pill:

  • In 1998, Packard seeded DANCO with $10 million. Packard’s investment in the company included a $14 million loan as early as 1996 to bring the drug to the U.S., as well as additional grants made in 2000, 2004, and 2009.
  • The Packard Foundation funded studies (in Journal Contraception) that claim self-managed abortion and reversing REMS is safe; the conflict of interest as an abortion pill investor was not noted.
  • Packard currently also funds Gynuity Health Projects, which conducts abortion pill clinical trials.
Image: Abortion Pill MFG DANCO Investors 2000 (Image: New York Times 9/30/2000)

Abortion Pill MFG DANCO Investors 2000 (Image: New York Times 9/30/2000)

READ: What you should know about the dangerous ‘self-managed’ abortion pill push

3. Daniel Grossman, abortionist and author of multiple abortion/abortion pill studies:

  • Grossman has a previous association with DANCO
  • He is entrenched in the abortion industry.
  • Grossman is a professor at University of California, San Francisco
  • Live Action News previously documented that Grossman is the Director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH)
  • He is a NARAL board member. [Editor’s note: Grossman left the board on Sept. 26, 2019]
  • He worked with the Mexico City Population Council
  • Grossman testified before U.S. District Court in 2014 and provides abortions as a consultant to Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific.
  • He is a liaison member of Planned Parenthood Federation of America National Medical Committee.
  • Grossman was a consultant in 2016 for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, providing input on medication abortion (abortion pill) using telemedicine.
  • The Packard Foundation has funded other Grossman-authored studies.
Image: Daniel Grossman ( Image credit: University of Texas at Austin)

Abortionist Daniel Grossman (Photo: U of TX Austin)

4. Journal Contraception:

  • The Journal and its authors are deeply embedded in the abortion industry.
  • The Journal published a report claiming there is large public interest in expanding distribution of abortion pill by lifting safety requirements on the drug. See the Live Action News report here.
  • That study failed to note glaring conflicts of interest, such as the fact that funding came from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, a major investor in the abortion pill manufacturer, DANCO.
Image: Packard Foundation self managed abortion pill study (Image: 2018 study from Journal Contraception)

Packard Foundation self managed abortion pill study (Image: 2018 study from Journal Contraception)

5. University of California, San Francisco (UCSF):

  • UCSF trains abortionists (Bixby/Ryan).
  • These programs are funded in part by Packard.

6. Gynuity Health Projects:

Image: Gynuity funded by population control organizations

Gynuity funded by population control organizations

7. Planned Parenthood:

  • Planned Parenthood is also funded by Packard.
  • The organization is emphasizing a telemedicine (telabortion) distribution of the abortion pill.
  • Planned Parenthood addressed telemedicine expansion in its 2019 plan.
  • It hopes to place a national telemedicine hub in Hawaii.
  • An op-ed by Dr. Meera Shah, Associate Medical Director, stated in part, “FDA needs to remove unnecessary requirement for medical providers to supply the mifepristone pill in office, allowing instead pharmacists to dispense it directly.”
Image: Planned Parenthood plan to expand abortion 2019 (Image: screen from PP Action Fund website)

Planned Parenthood plan to expand abortion 2019 (Image: screen from PP Action Fund website)

8. Guttmacher:

  • Guttmacher is also funded by Packard
  • It pushes self-managed abortion, writing, “Given mifepristone’s safety profile, the REMS restrictions are not justified, which is why leading medical organizations such as the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) support lifting the REMS.”
  • Guttmacher wrote, “clinic-based providers… play a role in supporting people who self-manage,” which “would require payment and reimbursement systems that compensate providers adequately for providing these services…
  • Guttmacher has its own abortion expansion plan, previously documented by Live Action News.

9. Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH):

  • ANSIRH published a report with Packard-funded Ibis Reproductive Health and Gynuity Health Projects, suggesting that medication abortion could be even further demedicalized through pharmacy dispensing and expansion of telemedicine models—or even making it available over the counter (OTC)—which have the potential to expand access greatly.” More here.

10. Tara Health Foundation:

  • Live Action News previously documented how the organization pledged to fund abortion pills on college campuses in California. This effort failed.
  • THF published a strategy which included a push for “home use” abortion and elimination of REMS.
  • Contributors for the strategy included Lana Dakan from Packard, Daniel Grossman, and Julia Kohn, who is the National Director of Research for Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
  • THF’s founder attends Packard-funded events.
  • Packard, TARA Health, and others funded a National Academy of Sciences review which claimed abortion was safe.

For almost 20 years, with the blessing of the FDA and Clinton Administration at that time, the abortion pill’s manufacturer has been permitted to function in secrecy with its location and investors’ information hidden from the public.

It is past time for the FDA to remove the veil of secrecy from DANCO, so that financially motivated conflicts of interest which corrupt studies on safety can no longer influence the public and pressure regulators to change safety requirements.

Read part one of this series here.

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